Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Women: Activists

I wont even comment on the 'Women: Mothers' programme as it was so pathetic and limp. Shame; this series started well. Hopefully 'Activists' has got a bit more oomph.
I've been to the London Feminist Network conference and I found it very disappointing. It said nothing to me about my life, in so many ways. I don't care about objectification; I mean, I do, but not much. I care about violence against women and equal rights/ pay, not about prostitution, porn or glamour modelling. A friend of mine is a psychologist who also does pole dancing for fun. Partly thanks to Object, she can't do it any more, because a new law has arrived that labels her 'a sex worker' so she cannot legally work in the criminal justice system (she works in a prison) and do that. She's basically had to give up her fall-back for money. That's not freedom; it's oppression. Women-on-women oppression.
Who is portraying women as sexual objects? Magazines certainly do, but that doesn't make ME a sexual object. I like being a sexual being. I like some porn, and I like being objectified sometimes. Horrifying, I know. I am 100% a feminist. These are not issues for me. Domestic violence is an issue. Rape is an issue. Abortion is an issue. Not being able to walk down the street at night is an issue. The rest just feels like window dressing. And I'm not stupid, I understand how Page 3 dehumanises women, I understand how Nuts magazine dehumanises women. But do you socialise with 13-year-old Sun readers? Idiots will always be idiots. You can't make morons intelligent.
I understand what Fin in this programme was saying about the rage; I am enraged by sexism everywhere. But I enjoy being enraged. I enjoy being intelligent enough to see why something is sexist when someone else might not even question it. Knowledge is power. It's better to be oppressed than ignorant.
Two women a week killed by their male partner; that is something worth shouting about, worth raging against. Someone calling up for 'a prostitute like a pizza'? I'm not bothered.
I do hate sexist language; bird, slut, slag; it's all the same thing, something a woman can be called, but a man can't. I even hate 'hen' party with it's vision of twittering women. But what is the point of them reading ads for porn lines in the back of a magazine and complaining about it? It's like going to Wales and moaning that it's raining. I don't agree that men who watch porn see all women as 'slags'. Men compartmentalise sex; they can turn that off and on again; and guess what; so can women.
Oh god, the feminist songs! Spare me. This doesn't do much for our image. 'Po-faced' is levelled at us a lot; and this is why. A man reading The Star on the tube is clearly an idiot; let him get on with it. Does it really affect you? Getting angry about that is like getting angry at a park bench; in fact the park bench is probably more well-read.
Another friend of mine is a member of Object, and friends with Sandrine, but when I challenged her on the views she didn't seem to have the answers to why objectification is bad, just that it was bad. But if you're going to stand up for something, why not stand up for battered women, for rape victims? Glamour models and porn stars are making money. It's their choice, the majority of the time (except for in cases of trafficking etc- and that in itself is violence and rape, so why separate it) so why take that choice from women?
Music videos are soft porn. Movie stars encourage girls to starve themselves by being so thin. The way to arm yourself against this is to teach your children some morality; some common sense. There SHOULD be more curvy women in magazines. But there's not. So don't read magazines. You don't need that handbag or that diet plan. Any intelligent person realises this at about age 16. There is so much alternative media out there now. You don't have to feel so oppressed by this stuff. I don't listen to pop music or watch pop videos any more. You don't have to. Just put something else on. I agree in freedom of expression for all; even the brain-dead. If you get angry about everything, you can't even function anymore. And I'm angry about MOST things.
Oh wow, they just mentioned abortion! Surely abortion should be the NUMBER ONE subject for any feminist, the number one priority; a women's right to choose. It's so intrinsically important. There are people out there that want to force you to give birth against your will. All this other stuff is just a diversion.
The 'bin the bunny' thing against Playboy is just stupid; it makes people laugh at us as feminists, because people see it as frippery. And it is. The Girls of the Playboy Mansion TV show makes me feel sick; but so what. I used to have a Playboy pencil case when I was a teenager; so what? It didn't 'programme me to accept degradation and pornography in later life'- it just kept my pencils in check. It's just a logo, a picture. It can't hurt us unless we let it.
I agree that stereotypes of men and women have a lot to answer for; and the media enforce that. But men and women also enforce that. If you choose a different way; it's not that difficult to live like it. In fact, it's very easy.
I recognise loads of people from the feminist conference; the thought of 'feminist comedy' I found quite frightening, I must admit. It's weird seeing the footage from that conference because I was there, and it was well-meaning, but some of the speakers were just plain dull, and there was a real lack of humour (except for the feminist comedy, which I avoided, obviously). I hate to be such a downer, but I went there with expectations, and I came out feeling non-plussed, and that's surely not the aim of an event like that. I think it needed an injection of charisma. Some of these feminists are dare I say it; a bit sappy. And then the others are a bit... militant. I want a bit of humour and panache.
I agreed with the girl who said it can be lonely being a feminist. I'm always confused by my female friends who aren't feminists. How can you NOT care about your own sex, your own rights? It seems bizarre.
I thought the interviewer asking that feminist why she paints her nails was fucking stupid. Heaven forbid a feminist wants to look pretty.
Oh my god, there's no rape crisis centre in London! The whole of London! Now that's something to get upset about. That's disgusting. Rape IS legal in this country, it really is. Then afterwards; see you later, love.
I'm glad they touched (very briefly) on feminists having conflicting views; we're not one homogeneous mass, and no one should enforce their views onto others. I AM a feminist; and I have just as much right to call myself one as anyone else.
These documentaries are 15 minutes too long. I was getting very antsy towards the end.
Is this wave of feminism gathering momentum? Not really. Apathy rules. But you can make a change in your own life; with your own opinion, but explaining things very simply to people. And it does make a difference.
I got groped and almost robbed on the bus today. It's hard being a woman. But I'd still rather be one than a man.


rachel said...

Couldn't disagree with you more on any number of points, but great to feel so provoked - by your blog and the prog.

lightupvirginmary said...

well if you tell em what you disagree with, we can have a debate...

rachel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rachel said...

Sorry, deleted the last attempt but this is the same minus some glitches.

I'll write a blog about feminism from my angle and call your attention to it - that's got to be more efficient than playing ping-pong in the comments box.

What provoked me was the inconsistency. Humour and panache by the bucketload, but no two versions of your opinion the same!

To single out one example, in the first blog (Libbers) you divide the ads on the tube into sexist and non: "The sexist ones were mainly cartoons of blonde women in heels, shopping. These images permeate society. It's no wonder so many women haven't got a clue how to position themselves in society." Good point!

But then in 'Activists' you look at your younger self with your Playboy pencil case: "It didn't 'programme me to accept degradation and pornography in later life'- it just kept my pencils in check." So it didn't permeate your teenage conciousness and suggest ideas to you about what it meant to be female?

"It's just a logo, a picture. It can't hurt us unless we let it." No! That's so not the way advertising works. If you're a hyper-aware feminist filled with rage than you're defences are up. But what if that awakening is yet to happen in your life? What on earth (if it's not activists working hard to get things changed) protects you from the torrent of sexist rubbish?

lightupvirginmary said...

I can't connect the two for some reason; the rabbit just seems benign to me. Would love to read your blog and always happy to have my mind changed on things: would be interested in your thoughts on my friend losing her part time livelihood as a pole dancer because age works in a prison.