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Feminism

Femmo Bites – #notallmen

February 6, 2015
Feminism, femmo bites, My Advice, Random Thoughts, Ruby Kawaii

notallmen
source

I have decided I’m going to start blogging my random feminist thoughts here.  I have a lot of them all day every day but I’ve been finding it hard to do regular posts about feminism because I tend to put too much thought in them which means I often don’t get around to posting them or I think it’s not interesting/engaging enough. So instead I will post smaller “femmo-bites” about something I happen to be thinking about right now.

Today’s one stems from a facebook post I was commenting on. The OP shared a link where a girl in India confronts the man who tries to touch her inappropriately and without her consent on a plane. Almost immediately she was swamped with guys saying NOT ALL MEN in a variety of colourful ways. A number of people clarified that she did not mean ALL men at all but these dudebro’s kept going and on and on about it, even suggesting women should specify “some men” in future posts/conversations to avoid confusion in the future (ugh). This was my response (slightly edited for this post) which is my stance on why #notallmen is a harmful derailment tactic:

The fact is, a lot of men do things like this. Not all, not even most, but a lot. There are also a lot of men who mightn’t actually do this sort of thing themselves but think about doing it or don’t see why there’ such a fuss about the men who do do it. The reason for this is because many men have it deeply ingrained in them that women are objects rather than people. They feel like they, as men, have the right to touch these objects that they find desirable. For a long time, the vast majority of women put up with it because it was deeply ingrained in us too that this was how it was and we had to accept it. It’s only been in very recent history that women have found themselves able to stand up and say NO, that is NOT appropriate, and even more recently that laws have be adjusted to reflect this.

Feminism is still crucial these days, even though at a glance it might seem like women and men are pretty much equal. The wage gap and the glass ceiling both still exist, for example. But very importantly, too many men are still finding themselves unable to view women as people rather than objects and so they touch, abuse, harm and kill them in abundance. Sometimes women find themselves unable to yell at a man for touching her inappropriately because there is the very real risk that he will harm her for daring to stand up to him. The woman in this video found herself in a position where she could safely confront the man trying to touch her without her consent and did so. But if she had been in a different scenario it possibly would have been safer for her to be quiet, ignore him and leave the situation as quickly as possible. That is not equality between genders, that we cannot stop something horrible happening to us because we might get hurt or killed for saying no.

We have a very long way to go, because there are still too many men who are like this and when women try to talk about it, a bunch of other men get upset because they feel unfairly targeted despite the fact that wasn’t actually the case. That harms these conversations because it means women have to then double back and clarify that they didn’t mean ALL men at all and the original conversation has been derailed and brought back to focus on men. That is counter productive. So PLEASE understand, when women are talking about this sort of thing, we do NOT mean ALL men do these things. We are referring to those men that do. If you don’t do these things, GREAT. Keep not doing those things and maybe have a go at listening to what women are saying instead of wondering if we’re indirectly referring you and bringing the conversation back to your hurt feelings!

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Feeding the trolls

January 29, 2015
Cara Rage, Feminism, My Advice, Nerds and Geeks, Pissed Off, Random Thoughts

MRA

As anyone who reads my blog has probably realised, I don’t post here so much any more. I usually chalk it up to not having enough spare time but I know deep down that isn’t necessarily true, though the real reason has always managed to escape me. I’ve also found myself utilising social media (SM) less and less in recent years. I mean I go on it a lot still but I’m actually posting there a lot less these days. Instagram tends to be my SM of choice, I still post stuff on my Facebook occasionally but I severely neglect others like Twitter and Tumblr even though I value both mediums (and many others) greatly.

It wasn’t until I read this article today that I finally started to understand why I may not be posting online as much any more. It’s not because of time constraints or because I’m getting older ans less interested in the internet at large, I’m starting to think it’s because I have been scared off by online bullies and trolls who always manage to find a post of mine to attack, and feel to exhausted and over it to bother with their bullshit any more. And that makes me sad. I love the internet! I adore SM! I’m only 32 and I don’t have kids, I’m nowhere near too old for the WWW yet! So why have I been scared off?

Because I am told that I should not feed the trolls, that by reacting and replying to them they are getting what they want. By not responding to them I am starving them of the attention they so crave and so they will eventually starve and die. But that’s not true is it? Because we’ve been doing that for years and the trolls haven’t gone anywhere and in fact, are only getting worse. While it is obvious that trolls derive pleasure from our reactions, they also appear to feel vindicated when we stay silent. When a troll attacks a woman for daring to have an opinion online, we either give him more ammunition by responding to him or we do exactly what he wants which is to stop having that particular opinion (or at least keep it off his precious internet).

I have also been told over the years that it’s not particularly desirable to post too much “negative” stuff on SM and that it’s always a downer when I do. Whether it’s because it makes their feed a little less pleasant as they’re scrolling down or because it encourages vigorous debates in the comments which they perceive as “causing fights”, I don’t know but I’ve been told this enough to put me off of posting on my SM unless it’s funny, interesting or cute. Now that I think about this, I’m really annoyed that I felt pressured to post less because some people didn’t like my non-pleasant posts. I mean, they could always just scroll past my posts, couldn’t they? Why do I have to censor myself just so their feed is more to their tastes?

So I am done with treading carefully, ignoring the trolls or refraining from posting anything that’s not light and fluffy! I like posting about social issues like feminism and racism on my social media and I don’t give a damn if people find it too much of a downer. If a troll leaves some bullshit comments on my social media and I feel like responding with my own brand of trollin’ then I damn well will! if they get too much and I’m sick of them, I will delete their shitty comments and laugh about how pathetic they are (and probably share it on SM too). I am sick to death of being made to feel like I don’t really belong on the internet just because of my gender. Why should I feel intimidated by arsehole misogynists who have nothing better to do than to say nasty stuff on a complete strangers SM? Fuck that noise!

I think one of the first things I’m going to do is post a new vlog. After being attacked by some particularly nasty creeps a while back on one video, I’ve not felt confident in posting again. But I liked vlogging and I’ve been desperate to put my excellent video editing skills to use after many years of neglect! BAM! Take that, you fucking trolls!

And finally:

misandry

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Why Anaconda doesn’t body-shame nor is anti-feminist

August 28, 2014
Body and Soul, Cara Rage, Feminism, In the News, Music Love, Rants

Nicki-Minaj-Anaconda

Unless you’ve been living under a big ol’ rock, you’ve probably heard some of the fuss about Nicki Minaj’s new song ‘Anaconda’. If not, a brief summary is that people don’t like it, they think it body-shames (specifically, skinny women) and that it’s anti-feminist. Which is a direct rebuttal to the people saying that the film clip can actually be considered empowering and doesn’t skinny-shame at all. I would like to say right now that I fall into the latter category completely. I’ve never been that big a fan of Nicki, I mean I love her image to death but her songs just aren’t quite my thing, which sucks because I am ALL about supporting black, female rappers in a misogynistic industry like the rap music scene. Before I get into why I like this particular song, I urge you to watch the clip now, even if you have already seen it, as I will reference it a couple of times:

OK so one of the first things people point out about this song is her use of “skinny bitches”. I’ll admit when I first listened to it I thought “great, skinny shaming! This is no better than Meghan Trainor’s damn song”. For reference, Meghan’s song “All About That Bass” has been a bone of contention to a lot of feminists because it’s packaged as a body-positivity song but is full of skinny-shaming (I will discuss this further later on). It’s a widely held belief in feminist circles that body-positivity shouldn’t come at the detriment of one body type over another. But otherwise I loved the song and was totally mesmerised by the film clip. I’m a member of an excellent feminist group on Facebook where we have discussed this video/song at length and it was through there that I started to question if Nicki was skinny-shaming at all, so I decided to do some research and see what other people have written about it.

I quickly found two distinct opinions, that Nicki’s brand capitalizes on racial stereotypes while reinforcing notions of Black female hypersexuality that are long established racist trope or that we live in a world where black women’s bodies are meant for our consumption but only on the terms which everyone who isn’t a black women gets to dictate (both of these articles relate to the cover for this single which was release a couple of weeks before the clip came out, just to clarify).  The more I thought about it, the harder I found it to be mad about Nicki’s supposed skinny-shaming and I was starting to lean more towards the opinion that she is reclaiming the sexy black woman image from people who either fetishise or demonise it but rarely respect it. Aside from the “fuck skinny bitches” lines, everything was so great about the song and the video, the way she featured no men except for the end when she gives a lap dance to Drake who is merely there as a prop for Nicki to dance upon and is denied any real pleasure from the experience (as soon as he tries to touch her she’s outta there), the symbolism of her chopping up the banana etc. 

As I kept researching I came across more articles that were pro-Nicki and so I not only started to side with them but started to vehemently agree with them. One article I loved in particular drew a comparison between Beyoncé who people are so readily to accept as being feminist (even before she “came out” as a feminist) and yet discount Nicki as being over-sexualised and anti-feminist. This is despite the fact Beyoncé has released some really problematic stuff in the past, but hey, she’s deemed classier so it’s easier to accept her brand of moderate and respectable feminism.

nicki-minaj-and-drake

So what about the “skinny bitches” line. Could I ignore it when I’d had a few rants about skinny-shaming in Meghan Trainor’s song. No, but I was suddenly able to justify it. See, Nicki has reclaimed the word “bitch” to be an empowering word for woman, the female equivalent of men being called “boss”. With that in mind, when you hear the lyric “skinny bitches” it’s suddenly not a case of her saying “you’re a bitch because you’re skinny” but her just saying “skinny women” because remember, she also refers to herself as a fat-assed bitch. Yes, she does say “fuck the skinny bitches” which sounds pretty abrasive and mean at first, but after a closer look it’s really just her telling the skinny women to move it because her and her fat-assed friends are coming in to take over the club. I now interpret “skinny bitches” to refer to the skinny, mostly-white women like Miley Cyrus who’ve been trying to appropriate twerking from black women, telling them all to get out of the way because the women who twerked first and twerk best are here and they ain’t impressed.

So back to why ‘Anaconda’ is a more empowering song than Trainor’s. First off, “All About That Bass” is presented as a feel-good body-positive song, which is all lovely and fun until she actively shames a skinny woman by presenting one as “less attractive” and unable to dance in the clip. Meghan is also a thin-waisted curvy girl (therefore an acceptable kind of “fat” that is still considered attractive and desirable) who wrote a song about how bigger girls are better than skinny girls because as her mum says “boys like a little more booty to hold at night”.  It’s just taking all the crap that fat women usually get and redirecting it at skinny women, which isn’t body positivity at all and is just plain ol’ skinny-shaming. But people don’t see that, they see a cute white girl in a cute music video being soooo cute and suddenly she’s the voice for all bigger women everywhere.

On the other hand, Minaj doesn’t have any such pretense. She’s doing what she usually does – the fuck you all type swagger that that you find in a lot of hip hop. At no point does she make the claim that she’s trying to make girls all feel good about themselves, her song is solely about her feeling good about her sexual prowess and how she much she loves her own big, fat ass. There’s a line that says “Say he don’t like em boney, he want something he can grab” which some might consider the same as Meghan’s booty line but the difference between them is that this is something a man has told her he specifically likes, whereas Meghan was told that to make her feel better about feeling fat/unattractive.

Nicki-Minaj-Anaconda2

I guess it can all be interpreted differently depending on your own personal experience. Overall I find the idea of skinny-shaming to be a step backwards when it comes to body-positivity, but at the same time I’m not that upset by it. Yes some slim women find it offensive, and I agree that it kinda sucks. But skinny-shaming is in no way comparable to fat-shaming. Thin people, women especially, have this thing called thin privilege, where they can see thin people like themselves represented in an appealing manner in all forms of media, they can walk down the street in a pair of shorts and not have people sneering at them or calling them names, they don’t have people concern-trolling them about their health or how they’re a burden on the health system or how they’re undesirable. So when people get up in arms about skinny-shaming and how it’s as bad as fat-shaming, I feel sad because it’s not true and it’s hurtful to try and align two types of shaming that at face-value might seem similar, but in reality one is oppressive while the other is just about some temporarily hurt feelings. Oh and just a note; if your immediate response to the concept of thin privilege is to dismiss it is being untrue or ridiculous, perhaps you need reminding of the phrase “check your privilege” because the thing about privilege is that you don’t know you have it until it’s pointed out to you.

In the end, these are all my own interpretations based on my own observances and the articles I’ve read online. I have never been skinny-shamed in my life because I am not skinny, but I also haven’t experienced much fat-shaming as I’m kind of in-between. I’ve seen both though, and I gotta say, fat-shaming is a lot more common and hurtful than any of the skinny-shaming I’ve ever witnessed, which seems to mostly stem from jealousy instead of outright disgust. ‘Anaconda’ has a lyric that can easily be perceived as hurtful, but that is not necessarily how it’s intended. This is a song about having a fabulous, big ass and being proud of it. Nicki uses her sexuality to express this in a way that empowers her. Maybe it doesn’t empower you, that’s OK, but you can’t tell everyone else that they’re not allowed to feel empowered by it. I’m happy for women to be empowered by ‘All About That Bass’ too, I won’t deny it’s too problematic for me to really enjoy but I understand why others feel differently than me.

Anyway that’s my feminist fat vs thin rant for now! Back to your irregularly scheduled program of intermittent fashion and geeky posts by yours truly ;)

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Toxic Misogyny

June 10, 2014
Feminism, Nerds and Geeks, Random Thoughts, Rants

I’m a little late to the party, but I couldn’t work out what I wanted to say exactly about this matter, and how I wanted to say it. I was really affected by the Isla Vista shooting the other week, I found myself thinking about it a lot and spending a lot of time reading article about the shooting itself as well as opinion pieces on why this mass shooting was especially awful. To be honest plenty has been said about it, most of it a lot better than I could possibly write (I’ll post some of links that I especially enjoyed at the end). But I still felt compelled to write something, to convey my thoughts on what made Elliott Rogers do what he did.

First of all, what he did was dreadful in every conceivable way. He decided that because women did not want to have sex with him, and other men were having sex with them instead, people deserved to die. Such a thought process is so beyond my comprehension, I barely know what to say except he was fundamentally wrong and anyone who sympathises with him is also wrong. Not one single bit of reasoning he gave for his atrocious actions can be justified in any way, which you’d think was pretty darn obvious but the amount of stuff I’ve seen where people (almost exclusively men) saying “if women just sucked his dick, this never would have happened” and words to this effect (yes I did read a tweet that actually said that and I’m still shocked and appalled by it). Clearly some people, most of which are men, just don’t get it.

Seeing #YesAllWomen take seed and blossom into an empowering discussion about what all women have to endure at the hands of some men was wonderful. It’s been so liberating to see how big this has gotten and how far the usually unheard voice of women are being heard, finally. I love seeing how much conversation it’s been generating, much of which has been very positive and helpful in shutting down the infuriating “NOT ALL MEN” rhetoric.  I can only imagine how many men are seeing this stuff, and being shocked by how lucky they are to not have endured what so many women have, from obnoxious cat calling to physical/sexual assault. I hope that men, after reading about #YesAllWomen will be more careful about who they call out “compliments” to on the street, how they pursue women at bars and when to stop, what consent actually means and how to react when they catch another guy when he does something shitty to a woman. Obviously not every man will change his behaviour, but I am really optimistic that many will.

But what about the men who refuse to change their minds or just ignore this whole issue completely? Men who’ve been brought up thinking women are nothing but objects to have sex with and (if they’re lucky/so inclined) make babies with. Men who teach their son’s that women aren’t as good as men, that manliness is proven by sexual conquest and that respecting women is for “sissies”. Sometimes these boys don’t even need to be taught these things from their parents as such, maybe their parents just don’t really go into any of it so they boy has to search elsewhere for this information, and finds it from his peers, from his favourite TV shows and films and the internet. What is the information he gleans from these sources is skewed and teaches him the wrong thing? What if he learns masculinity is defined by sex and/or violence? What if he finds new friends who feel the same way and help make him become bitter that he can’t be a “real man” without having sex, so that his only resort is violence? That’s what I believe happened to young Elliott Rogers. He wasn’t told by anyone that sex isn’t the be-all-end-all, that at the age of 22 it’s perfectly OK to be a virgin, that women can offer a lot more than sex, that you’re allowed to talk to people about how you’re feeling and that violence is never, ever the answer. I don’t blame his parents at all, they already knew he was troubled and tried to do something about it but were told there was no real risk of him doing anything drastic. Can you imagine how they must feel, they’ve lost their son but can’t really grieve for him because of his own dreadful actions.

I worry that there’s no real way to reach the young men like Elliott and his online peers who feel the same way as him. While most of them won’t get a gun and shoot people, they still think the same way he did. How do you address people of privilege who have everything going pretty darn well for them in most respects but still expect more? How do you untrain all of the young men in the world who think they deserve the love and sex of women without doing anything to actually earn it? How do you explain that a black or hispanic man has just as much right to date a white women as he does, and they probably deserve it more because they think of women as whole people and make the effort to be kind to them? How do we tell all of the new parents out in the world to teach their son’s that a woman’s worth is not measured by what she wears, how she looks or how she sleeps with? It’s an overwhelming concept which seems all but impossible, but with more and more men standing up against misogyny in society, I am hopeful that maybe it will be possible in the not-too-distant future.

Your Princess Is in Another Castle: Misogyny, Entitlement, and Nerds

Elliot Rodger was a misogynist – but is that all he was?

Elliot Rodger’s Online Life Provides A Glimpse At A Hateful Group Of “Anti-Pick-Up Artists”

Yet Another Blog Post About The Isla Vista Shooting

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Online Misogyny (or Why the Internet Sucks for Women)

January 23, 2014
Cara Rage, Feminism, I love Links, In the News, Nerds and Geeks

OatmealCartoon
Source: The Oatmeal


I’ve been on the internet for a long time now. I believe I first got access to the internet when I was about 12 or 13 which would have been 1995/1996 and I embraced it completely. I used to spend hours in chat rooms and on Red Hot Chili Peppers forums, most of which was sneakily done as it was dial-up and I was only meant to be online for an hour a day to be fair to everyone else and so as not to hog the phone line. Oh the trouble I’d get into from mum when she’d realise I’d been online for hours at a time! Looking back, I can’t recall ever being abused by anyone for anything on the internet back then. I had robust discussions with other RHCP fans and excellent chats with people in Yahoo chat rooms, I even tried cyber sex once which was mostly pretty hilarious to me, but usually I just chatted to random strangers from around the world about anything and everything.

I’m not sure what happened to the internet between then and now, why people started off civil and polite and are now absolute arseholes to anyone they disagree with or just don’t like the look of. Maybe I was lucky and just didn’t witness any online bullying, though the sheer amount of time I spent online, you’d think I would have seen something? Now days you hear nothing but reports of cyber bulling causing kids to commit suicide, about people being threatened for writing something online that others didn’t like, about “revenge porn” websites (that are actually created by stealing images by hacking email accounts and posting the racy photos online along with all of their contact details for good measure) and so on. When did the internet go from being a place to share information, to make friends in other countries and look up funny pictures to a virtual battlefield? Any why exactly is it that women seem to be bearing the brunt of it all?

I read a couple of good articles this week that go into depth about why the internet basically sucks for women (here and here, I definitely recommend them both) and it made me think back to all of the abuse I’ve suffered with little to no provocation except for the mere fact I am a female. I can’t remember the first time I received gender-specific abuse online but I’ve experienced it in almost every forum, from Facebook to Youtube and even on my own blog. I’ve also received abuse that’s got nothing to do with my being a woman and simply because of something I wrote online. But almost all of it has involved some sort of misogyny, even when whatever I wrote had literally nothing to do with gender. For example, back in 2009 I organised a fundraiser for the zombie walk I used to run. I posted about it on a few different music forums, which I thought was reasonable enough, until some dude decided he didn’t like it and started writing abusive comments. At first it was just about how lame zombie walks were but as I replied to him, he got meaner and more sexist, calling me a “silly little girl” and alluded that I was only doing the walk and this fundraiser to look cool to boys.

FB-abuse01
Other abuse I’ve received has been even more sexist and absolutely unprovoked. One time a random guy messaged me on facebook (as above) to “hook up” and when I called him out on his sexist behaviour he went CRAZY (see the second part of his abuse here), calling me slut, fat, a cunt and various other horrible things simply because I took offence to his initial, sleazy comment. Not too long after that, I got some horribly nasty comments on one of my Youtube videos where I was called fat, immature, insecure and ugly for no apparent reason. You can see the comments here and here. Those comments actually really hurt me because they weren’t as crazy sounding as the guy on facebook and so I unfortunately took them to heart. As a result I didn’t want to vlog any more, it just didn’t seem worth the stress when some other arsehole would just come along and write other nasty comments about my weight or whatever bothered them about me. I even got it from so-called “friends” on social media, who would attack me for a status update and really drill into me whenever I mentioned anything remotely related to girl problems, and especially anything to do with feminism (needless to say those jerks have been long deleted).

My experiences aren’t as bad as some other women who have been threatened with death and/or rape by hundreds, if not thousands of complete strangers. I can’t even imagine how I’d feel after receiving a barrage like that just because I wrote something on the internet that some men disagreed with. It’s also astounding at how much abuse women cop for daring to speak out against female issues, such as Lindy West who was sent a startling amount of abuse for her stance on rape jokes. Who are these people writing these vile comments and do they actually really feel that way? I’m inclined to suggest they don’t and just like to say horrible things online to get a reaction and  have nothing else better to do, because surely no decent man thinks this way? If this is the case, does it lessen the seriousness of the threat or the abuse? I don’t think so, because no one knows for sure what that man is capable of and if he’s willing to post those sentiments so publicly, then surely there’s a distinct possibility his threats are real and ought to be taken seriously? Whatever the stance you take, it’s hard to deny it’s been happening for a while now and is only getting worse.

Unfortunately threats and abuse made online are rarely taken seriously, even though they would be if they were made in the form of a telephone call or posted letter. There is an assumption that you can just turn off your computer and walk away because they’re not “tangible” threats as such and should just be ignored. But with all that we do online these days, is that really true? To one person twitter is probably a silly waste of time, to another it’s a serious tool used for business, networking and communicating with friends. Telling the latter to just “turn it off and walk away” is paramount to telling them to disconnect their phone and block off their letterbox. Just because you don’t understand a particular form of social media, doesn’t mean anything said on there can just be dismissed. I once had to report a violation of the DVO I have against someone to the police as I was contacted through twitter, and actually had to explain how twitter works and was initially given the impression his contact by such means didn’t count (thankfully I eventually got on to an office who not only took it seriously but followed it up for me and gave me some good advice about the matter).

I wish I knew what was causing all of this vitriol towards women online or how to end it. I feel as though the general public is really struggling to deal with the internet because in the matter of 20 or so years it’s absolutely boomed and those who haven’t grown up with it don’t know how to teach younger generations how to deal with it when things go wrong. If my parents knew of all the things I used to look up online back in the day, they’d be appalled! But they didn’t have a clue, and I think that’s how it works in most families, the parents just don’t get what their kids are up to online and aren’t willing to learn so their kids grow up with little to no adult supervision in this aspect of their lives. Combine this with the fact there seems to be very little punishment for those who do do the wrong thing online, kids are growing up knowing they can get away with just about anything on the internet. And if boys aren’t being taught to respect women in every aspect of their lives, it’s hardly surprising that they’ll use the internet as a place to voice their grievances because the only people who are going to see are the faceless people on the internet. who are powerless to do anything about it.

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The Miley Cyrus Debate

October 4, 2013
Cara Rage, Feminism, In the News, Rants

mileythenandnow

Another day, another article about Miley Cyrus post-VMAs. I kind of feel like her performance at that joke of an awards show will become one of those “do you remember where you were when…” moments. I remember where I was, at work. I first learned about her “controversial” performance on facebook and then a few news sites as images and video started to emerge of her performance. More than anything, I remember the reactions people had. Before I watched the video I thought she’d done something really full-on based on peoples reactions, so I was really disappointed when I actually got around to watching it. That’s it??? It was such a non-event to me, and certainly not the most controversial thing I’ve seen done in pop music.

So many people, including friends on social media, appeared mortified that she’d dared dress and/or act the way she did. Many people lamented that the old Miley was now gone and this new one was horrible and a disgrace. While I thought her performance was tacky and probably unnecessary, I couldn’t understand why people seemed to angry/appalled. But then I guess it’s because I never cared that much for Miley to begin with, whereas a lot of other people did. For some reason people were taking great personal offence that she’d decided to strip herself of her cute, all-American, girl-next-door image and now wanted to join the ranks of Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Madonna and countless other pop stars who use sexuality and unusual clothing choices to grab the public’s attention.

miley_cyrus_vma

The more I think about it, the angrier I get. Not just at peoples dumb reactions to a celebrity they don’t even know and yet seem to think they have a say about what she does, but to every damn aspect of it. I hate the over reactions to something that wasn’t even that big a deal in the grand scheme of things. I hate the fact people are now acting like twerking is a new, exciting thing and actually proclaiming she is the queen of it (when she can’t even twerk at all). I hate how her body was critiqued because her bum wasn’t pert and perfect. I hate how Billy Ray Cyrus had to defend her, because idiots thought her dad should not let his adult daughter do undaughterly things on TV. I hated how she got all the flak and fucking Robin Thicke got nothing when his song is a rapey piece of shit and he looked like a puncier version of Beetlejuice in that damn suit. I hate how she’s obviously felt pressured to change her image like this in order to shed the Hannah Montana image that people cling so desperately to. I hate how she has to use her body and silly sexual gestures to get noticed, because it’s not enough that she can sing.

It’s a shit situation all round, but at the end of the day, it’s her life and she can do with it what she wants. She generated a HUGE amount of interest because of that performance, so really, if getting attention and some notoriety was her intention, then she did a fantastic job of it. I wish it wasn’t at the expense of her credibility and dignity, but hey, it’s pop music. Since when did pop stars ever get to keep their dignity? People should have let go of the Hannah Montana thing long ago, when she stopped playing that character and started growing up. They bitch and moan that her sexy new look is trashy and unattractive, but they forget that she was being fetishised as a underage sex symbol anyway, and at least now any sexual attraction to her is justified and less creepy because she is an adult, acting like an adult, and doing adult, sexy things that demand sexual thoughts.

I just hope that she gets all of this hyper-sexualised BS out of her system with this album, a few film clips, a photoshoot with Terry Richardson (ugghh) and then moves on to become the person she really is. If it turns out this is the real Miley, then good on her. Many of us go through most of our lives not knowing who we are or suppressing our true selves for the benefit of others.  Whatever happens, I still won’t ever buy her records so really, it aint any of my damn business.

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LISTEN UP: Your weight does not define you

July 4, 2013
Body and Soul, Cara Rage, Feminism, I love Links, Life, My Advice, Pissed Off, Rants

weight

Yesterday I read this article which made me cry. Why? Because I could have so easily written it myself. I have spent much of my life worrying about my weight and I know this began early on by my mum who has a terrible perception of her own body image which she unintentionally projected onto me. Growing up mum was quite overweight and it was a major struggle for her to overcome the emotional issues that made her that way and then eventually lose weight. She lost over 40kg through Weight Watchers and was a lecturer for them for a number of years. Then some bad stuff happened, like my parents splitting up and her having a near-fatal accident while we were holidaying in Paris, that made things hard (and almost impossible for her to exercise) so she eventually put the weight back on. So now she’s back to being overweight and is desperately unhappy about it, and it breaks my heart.

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My family and I in about 2001, my mum was at the peak of her weight loss here

She would always look at thin women and say “I’d kill to have a figure like that” which I also do myself now. She also used to comment on my figure when I gained weight after going through puberty, say that I had such a pretty face before reminding me that I needed to lose a few kilos, or encourage me to go on diets with her or comment that I shouldn’t wear certain clothes as they weren’t flattering. I remember my family went on a trip to Cairns when I was in my late teens and I spent so many nights crying by myself because everyone would comment on how gorgeous my younger sister was who has always been slim, while effectively ignoring me or worrying about my weight even though I wasn’t anywhere close to being overweight.

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During the trip to Cairns where I was  made to feel fat and daggy for not being as slim or fashionable as my younger sister

I tended to go through phases where I was comfortable with myself as I was to being horrified at how fat I’d let myself become. I’d go on diets or just live life without a care in the world. I got pretty chubby while I was living in England and I really didn’t care that much at all, making the occasional token effort to eat better but generally not giving a damn. I can’t explain why I was so OK with myself as I was, perhaps it was because I was surrounded by awesome people who didn’t go on about their figures constantly or bring others down by making nasty comments, or perhaps it was because I had absolutely no trouble picking up guys. Whatever it was, I was happy, confident and didn’t feel pressured to be a skinny minnie.

But then I came back to Australia and everything changed. I met a guy who told me constantly for the next six years that I was fat, that I’d be “so hot” or “unstoppable” if I was skinny, that he was ashamed to be seen with me because of my weight, accused me of lying about going to the gym/eating healthy because it didn’t show and so on. I endured that for six years until I had no self esteem left. I only had a smidge of confidence that I had a pretty face because that’s aabout the only compliment I ever got and even then I rarely heard that because of all of the hurtful and destructive criticism he would yell at me. Imagine being told that your boyfriend didn’t want to have sex with you because you’d put on a few kilograms? That he’d start showing you off in public if only you’d lose more weight. Getting told to stop getting tattoos because they didn’t suit a girl my size. Yep, pretty nasty stuff.

I had lost about 8kg here and was told by my ex that I was finally hot enough for him to be proud to be my boyfriend. I gained the weight back as soon as I stopped the diet I was on, as I was pretty much starving myself

While it was clear my ex was an abusive jerk who didn’t deserve a second of my time (let alone six years), his words had a huge impact on me and it’s been a long, hard road to try and get over them. I have a new, wonderful and loving partner who showers me with compliments constantly, who thinks I have the body of a bombshell goddess and even if I did gain a bunch of weight, would still love me until the end of time. And yet I worry almost everyday about my weight, especially since I’ve gained a bit since I hurt my back last year and had to stop exercising for a few months. It stresses me out all the time, and even though I know I’m being silly, I can’t help it! I’m pretty healthy in my eating habits and exercise regularly, and yet I feel like a bit fat blob who everyone whispers about behind my back.

I also get really sad when I see friends get obsessed with dieting, exercising and losing weight. Now days it’s not on to say you want to lose weight, but are trying to be “healthy” when they really just mean they want to lose weight and be skinny. Why can’t we be happy with how we are and maintain a healthy lifestyle without blasting it all over social media like we’re fucking heroes for going to the gym and eating a salad? Why can’t I look at an instagram post of someone eating junk food and not immediately feel compelled to judge them?The mentality of what is healthy is is so messed up. It’s assumed that being slim = healthy and being fat = unhealthy. Meanwhile I work with a bunch of women, half of whom are super slim and yet eat anything they like, never exercise, drink and smoke constantly and yet at face-value they’d appear healthier than me with my chubby little belly, thighs and big bum. The other half just obsess about what they eat and are constantly taking weight loss pills or trying new diets.

I came to the decision a while ago that I was going to change the way I express myself about my body image issue, because I refuse to let me children grow up thinking they’re fat or ugly because of the things they heard me say about myself or others. And not just for my future children, but for other women around me. Some of the things my friends and work colleagues say about themselves to one another (as I was writing this one workmate called herself a “fat fuck” because she’s been craving/eating scones lately). I’m going to try and stop spreading negativity by bitching about how fat I am, because I’m not. And even if I was, who cares? It’s unhealthy and BORING to talk about weight all day and I’m sick of this toxic culture of bringing ourselves down when we’re perfectly wonderful the way we are.

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Stupid Shit Girls Say on Instagram

June 18, 2013
Cara Rage, Feminism, Teaches of Ruby

boobstagram

I’ve always been appalled at how some of the worst misogyny I’ve ever witnessed has come straight from a woman’s mouth. Most of it’s to do with internalised sexism, after an eternity of being made to feel inferior to men, many women actually believe and vocalise the ridiculous stereotypes about females (have a read about, it’s very interesting). But what really gets my goat is seeing women being sexist to other women in sleazy, harassing ways. I’ve especially noticed this on Instagram and can’t understand why it’s OK for one girl to make lewd comments on another girls picture but if a guy did it, it’s be gross and unwanted. Talk about double standards. You don’t want to be treated like a piece of meat by men, but when a girl is the one making the lewd comments it’s OK? NEWSFLASH: It’s not!

Girls, it is not liberating or empowering to get treated like you’re nothing but a sexual object. I understand girls like to compliment one another and we can get away with telling another girl they’re pretty because it can be said without any intent, which we assume guys have when they pay us compliments. But there’s got to be a line, and making gross comments about boobs, butts or boxes to another girl is totally crossing that line and pretty much taking a crap in its front yard.

There is absolutely no reason for anyone to comment “boobs” on a girls Instagram post, just because you can see their boobs/cleavage in any capacity. Just because a girls boobs are showing in a photo (and because of Instagram’s policies, they’re always covered up because nudity ain’t allowed) doesn’t mean she wants you to oggle her and point out something she is already very aware of. Yep, I have boobs, got it thanks Captain Obvious!

Perhaps I am being melodramatic about this (it wouldn’t be the first time, heh heh), after all the odd compliment from a  female friend that may verge on the sexual can be very flattering and inoffensive. Perhaps it’s the lack of creativity that annoys me, I feel like women should be able to come up with something a bit better than what a 13 year old boy like to randomly call out at passing girls because god knows we complain enough when a guy does holler something stupid at us. I just wish everyone would take a moment before tapping “Send” and re-read their comment and make 100% sure they want it out there (this obviously applies to all social media). Do you really want to look like a douchebag by writing “hot bitch”, “#boxgap” or “boobs” under a picture someone has posted? Because the rest of look at that and cringe. Ask yourself, if a male you barely know wrote something like that under one of your photos, would it make you uncomfortable? Would you want to call him on it or maybe just delete it? If so, why are you doing it to someone else? Stop reducing your female comrades to pieces of sexualised flesh and either come up with a creative compliment or shut the hell up. The internet is already full of sexist idiocy, so please stop adding to it!

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That’s Mrs Westworth, thank you!

May 18, 2013
Feminism, In the News, My Advice, Pissed Off, Random Thoughts

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I have been described as a militant feminist a couple of times, including by my boyfriend (though in the nicest possible way, of course). If shouting at people for making g0-back-to-the-kitchen jokes or getting rage when I hear about a new case of victim-blaming in the case of male-on-female rape makes me a militant feminist, then I am fine with this! I don’t think women get angry enough about these sorts of topics and in many cases, are worse than men at perpetuating a lot of these myths about where a woman’s place is.

One issue that I feel strongly about is women taking her husbands surname after marriage. It just feels so wrong to me, I can’t think of how it benefits the woman at all and it’s just another outdated remnant of a time where women lost their identity as soon as they were married. It bothers me so much when I hear of friends who take on their husbands name, though none of my close friends have married yet so I’ve never discussed it with them or asked them why they decided to change their name. I find it old fashioned, unnecessary and totally sexist. But when I tell people this, they think I’m being ridiculous. It’s the done thing, it’d be so confusing not to have a shared family name, it’s no big deal etc. I’m also reminded that it’s a woman’s choice and isn’t that what feminism is about anyway? Letting women make their own choices?

I call BS on all of that. It’s a massive deal to go through the process of changing your surname. It’s not like you just wave your marriage certificate at a few utilities companies and be done with it, there’s expense involved and you have to go through a lot of legal rigmarole before contacting each company necessary to make the change. Then there’s the fact you now have a whole new name! You have to change your signature and make sure you remember to give your new name instead of your old one. And if it’s “not a big deal” then why don’t more men take on their wives names? I appreciate that a part of feminism is respecting a woman’s choice, but I’m of the opinion that most women don’t take their husbands names because they really want to , they just do it because it’s expected. Fuck that! If you have a terrible surname, I can absolutely understand you wanting to take your new husbands name to get rid of it (though if it’s so bad, I would have suggested changing it to something you actually want, not just taking on whatever boring surname your boyfriend-cum-husband happens to have). But when you marry a Smith or Cockburn, please don’t tell me you actually wanted his surname because gurl, I ain’t buyin’!

I just wish women were more open to the possibility of keeping their name, because I feel it’s a massive part of who you are, and to give it away just because it’s the “norm” seems silly to me. Why not explore other options? Why can’t your hubby take on your surname? Why not, if you can, merge both your surnames and both take it on? Sure you still have to go through all of the stress of changing your name, but at least you’re doing it together! I’m also not opposed to the idea of hyphenating names (I mostly enjoy how long and obnoxious they can be). There are other options and you, as a new wife, have every right to explore them and do what makes you happy. If taking on his surname is something you genuinely want, then good for you. But please do it because it’s what you want, not because you feel you have to, OK?

I understand I may be too much of a hardarse on this matter, but I feel really damn passionate about it. I have no intention of changing my surname after I get married (I mean, Westworth is a pretty neat and unusual name, I’d never want to lose it) and my kids will either take on my name or both parents names. I’ll be damned if I’m popping children out, only for their dad to get all the freaking credit! If my husband loves me, then he’ll understand. If he refuses, then I’ll kick his arse til he does or else not marry him!

What are your thoughts? If you’re married, did you take your partners name? What were your reasons for (not) doing so? 

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Down with the Anti-Feminist

March 25, 2013
Cara Rage, Feminism, In the News, Rants

I tend to get on my feminist high-horse on a daily basis. There’s always something going on in the news about some poor woman being raped/murdered or simply highlighting the inequality between men and women. Depending on my mood I tend to post links to my facebook where I have a bit of a rant about the injustices of the world and maybe have a bit of a discussion about it with friends. Occasionally there is debate, sometimes heated but almost always respectful and well intention ed.

That is, until I posted this article last week.

I made a point of mentioning that as it’s from the Daily Mail, it’s automatically kind of hard to believe or take seriously, but that I recommended it because of how it proves misogyny is still a big problem these days, even amongst the well-educated and wealthy, and that rape should never a joking matter. I feel these two facts are pretty obvious, and so I am always shocked and appalled when I get resistance to them from people. There was a massive fight about it, with one person being particularly vocal about how it was probably all a lie because of the site it was on and discounting it as female hysteria because there were no back up sources online (wut?). As one friend put it “Being critically aware is cool, but doubting off the bat has its roots in victim blaming and misogyny itself”.

Now we have the Steubenville rape case, where reactions range from “good, serves them right for raping an unconscious girl” to the absolutely shocking “that whore shouldn’t have gotten so drunk if she didn’t want to be raped” or, as CNN put it, “The most severe thing with these young men is being labeled as registered sex offenders… That will haunt them for the rest of their lives.” YOU’RE DAMN RIGHT IT WILL. And rightly so. They’re rapists.

It’s not just the media that’s sympathising with the rapists, the average joe on twitter has an opinion on it too as highlighted on Public Shaming (Warning: This tumblr will probably enrage you).

It is perplexing to me that even in the year 2013, people still don’t “get” what rape is. It’s as though rape is only genuine when it involves an innocent girl is raped by the creepy pervert hiding in the bushes. There is always a question of “what did the girl do to deserve the rape?” because it seems that unless you were dressed conservatively, are sober and you were walking in a safe area during daylight hours, it’s basically your fault that you got raped because you did something wrong (dressed “provocatively”, drank too much, walked in a bad area at night without a male escort etc) and you really should have know better. And unless a man forced himself on the violently, there’s always doubt about whether it’s really rape because maybe she lead him on, she just regretted having sex with him the next morning or the ever popular “well she didn’t say no”.

Just to be absolutely clear: RAPE IS RAPE.

We need to be beyond a time where we doubt a woman’s claim of rape before she even has a chance to explain what happened. Her being drunk or the fact she wore a short skirt should never, ever be justifications for her being sexually assaulted by anyone. There is no “lesson” being taught when a girl is raped. There is never something she has done to deserve rape as a punishment or lesson because no matter how repugnant she may be as a person, rape is never acceptable. It makes me furiously angry that everyone doesn’t know and accept this, but with everything that’s been happening in the world lately, it’s pretty darn clear that the general public either doesn’t realise or simple refuses to believe the truth. The fact a woman can be gang-raped to death and have people ask “Well why was she out after dark with a man who isn’t her husband?” or have a girl molested by a group of boys and have thousands of people the world over blaming her because she was drunk, only proves that there is a huge amount to do in terms of educating people on how victims of rape deserve to be treated. It’s not going to be easy and we’ll probably never get 100% there but I honestly think it’s possible.

I have so many opinions on this matter but I feel they can all be summed up with the following:

Henry Rollin’s amazing blog about the Stuebenville case

And this quote that’s floating around on tumblr:

What people don’t understand is when we say “Teach men not to rape,” we’re not talking about telling them not to jump out of the bushes in a ski mask and grab the nearest female. We’re talking about the way we teach boys that masculinity is measured by power over others, and that they aren’t men unless they “get some.” We’re talking about teaching men (and women) that it’s not okay to laugh at jokes about rape and abuse. We’re talking about telling men that a lack of “No” doesn’t mean “Yes,” that if a woman is too drunk to consent they shouldn’t touch her, that dating someone – or even being married to someone – does not mean automatic consent. We’re talking about teaching boys to pay attention to the girl they’re with, and if she looks uncomfortable to stop and ask if she’s okay, because sometimes girls don’t know how to say stop in a situation like that. We’re talking about how women have the right to change their mind. Even if she’s been saying yes all night, if she says no, that’s it. It’s over. That’s what we mean when we say “Teach men not to rape.

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