Category Archives: equality

Does Feminism Need a Rebrand?

Straight off the bat, fist in the air and hollering like a macaque, I am a feminist. Of course I am a feminist. Gender equality is something we should be ashamed that we haven’t reached. As a species we have put twelve men on the moon, observed distant galaxies, cured diseases that were once thought fatal, and created ABBA, yet equal pay, equal corporate and political representation, and even not hacking a girl’s lady bits to pieces in some parts of the world STILL prove elusive.

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

That is what people are conditioned to hear whenever issues of equality and prejudice are brought up. The words “I am a Feminist” to many people is just giving them permission to tune you out, talk over you or repeat some ‘witty banter’ about women not knowing their place.

Indeed it is seemingly acceptable to sneer and ridicule, as if holding said beliefs are an open and aggressive challenge to the sneering party. There are three groups of people who it is deemed totally okay to heap scorn upon with no ‘legitimate’ objections.

Feminists – Environmentalists – Vegans

Yup, even we much scorned and oft mocked Transfolk are starting to get ‘normal’ people fighting our corner (keep it up guys, you’re stars!).

Now, I could bang on about how those big three labels are consciously and constantly discredited by a patriarchal, fossil fuel loving, steak chomping cabal of wealthy (mostly) men, who use their assets to influence media and politicians, but all people are conditioned to hear is:

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Since when were universal human equality, environmental preservation or just not eating animal products considered to be bizarre, far out political extremism?

“BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Okay, okay I’ve lost a lot of the readership by this point, so I won’t labour it.

The actual core message of Feminism in particular, is one that even most naysayers would agree with, but the word has been toxified. A grotesque stereotype has been carefully crafted and bandied about as if it were cold, hard fact. When a negative portrayal of something is so crafted for so long, it begins to self-perpetuate and those who spun it can sit back in their gentleman’s clubs, joke about all the women they have groped and then run for President.

We live in a world of brands, slogans and logos. If something cannot be summed up by a simple image or a brief tagline, it fails.

Conditioned Public: “Why do we have this problem?”

Brand A: “There are numerous causes for our current situation, not least of all is…

Conditioned Public: “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz”

Conditioned Public: “Why do we have this problem?”

Brand B: *Shrugs* Brown people.

Conditioned Public “YAAAAAY!”

Ye get me bro?

Now, Feminists can be massive pricks. Believing in women’s equality does not automatically prevent you from being rude, aggressive, divisive, cruel or elitist. In the Venn diagram of “Pricks and Feminists” there is a little bit of a crossover.

feminist pricks

Yes, there are several high profile Feminists that seem to get an awful lot of media time because they outright despise Trans people (so much for your genitals not dictating your destiny eh?). There are those who would rather fight against the women that don’t adhere to their own narrow views of what is, and is not acceptable for a Feminist to be.

But what of the rest of the Feminists who stand in solidarity with their Trans kin, who embrace a woman’s right to choose her own form of self-expression, set her own standards of beauty and fashion… those who argue that it is no less oppressive to ban an item of women’s clothing, than it is to enforce its wearing? Because that is most of us, isn’t it?

Of course that pesky old hyper-male governed media only give coverage the to the divisive and hypocritical…

BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Okay, so we can’t go in with the complex ideas off the bat. It also doesn’t help that the letters ‘F.E.M’ get a whole other heap of scorn all to themselves when placed in that order. They have been made to mean ‘weak’, ‘contradictory’, ‘stupid’, ‘less than’… The whole language of being female, or even feminine has been toxified. Men suffer as a result of this too. The pressure to be emotionally distant, repressed, stoic, insensitive and unaffectionate creates an ‘ideal’ that one would have to be a narcissistic sociopath to live up to… and yes guys, since you’ve always been told that everything is really about you when it isn’t, this actually is, at least in part. I am glad that so many guys nowadays actually get this and proudly label themselves as feminists, but the status quo as ever pushes back against challenges with increased vigour and severity. Let’s push forward together.

I am no marketing genius of course (I couldn’t sell shit to a Dung Beetle), and I never sought to offer a solution to the whole ‘rebranding’ option, but in a world where short answers trump correct ones, I feel it is inevitable that we must come up with some way of approaching our argument that cannot be toxified and filtered out of debate.

Or, in other words…

BLAH BLAH Patriarchy, BLAH BLAH Pay gap, BLAH BLAH Glass ceiling.”

Oh, just a side note. I spent waaaaay too long looking for an easy to use Venn Diagram generator online that didn’t require some kind of coding or payment for use so I gave up and did it in MS-Paint like a techno-illiterate from the late eighties (which I am). I’m not sure the gag was worth it, except that I really REALLY can’t stand Germaine Greer.

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Filed under Activism, Body Image, equality, feminism, Gender, gender roles, Inequality, trans community, trans issues, Transender, Transsexual

#LGBT – #UKIP pride ban: Ban the organisation, but let their people march.

I remember my first pride event – it was 1998 in London and we all gathered at Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park. I was fifteen and bouncing around in black leggings and hi-tops, rocking a pink hoodie and matching lipstick with a little too much schnapps in my system than was advisable, and we marched together, proud of who we were, facing down anyone from the sidelines who would turn their noses up at us.

This was a different Britain. We had just come out of eighteen years of Tory rule – of government led fearmongering over HIV/AIDS and section 28. The media were still utterly hostile towards anything LGBT and the main issues of the day were an end to Section 28 and equalising the age of consent. As it stood, it was 18 for gay men, 16 for heterosexual couples and  for lesbians… well, the law didn’t even recognise that they were capable of even having sex, let alone forming a legitimate relationship.

It is hard to admit to myself how long ago this was; over half a lifetime for me now, and yet each new challenge to the regressive status-quo that is victorious gives way to another challenge… another equality we must fight and campaign for, be it Civil Partnerships, Adoption rights, Same-Sex Marriage, Pressuring foreign countries to end their persecution of LGBT people… Pride Marches say ‘Look how far we have come, but look how far we have to go’.

The LGBT wing of UKIP wish to participate in London Pride this year. They want to join the parade, waving their great big UKIP banner and stand beside us as we march to remember those who fought for our rights, and those who continue to do so, and I would welcome them as individuals to stand against discrimination and second-class citizenship for LGBT people in this country and around the world.

But there is a problem, and the problem is UKIP.

This is a party that published more than one manifesto at the last general election, and that says something about the party as a whole; that it will commit to any course of action that would engender it to a specific group. In this case, it released its ‘Christian Manifesto’ which it was freely distributing at the UKIP Party conference this year. This manifesto described LGBT people and the LGBT rights movement as a danger to children… that LGBT rights was a way of pushing an agenda into schools that would see us grooming and recruiting children.

I am old enough to remember the days when being gay and being a sex offender were regarded, in public consciousness, as one and the same. When I got back to school the Monday after my Pride March, that attitude was behind every kicking I got for being ‘so digusting’ just because of my attendance at the event… I don’t know to this day who told them about it.

UKIP have also stated that they wish to introduce a conscience clause into the equality act which would allow people with certain religious beliefs to refuse goods or services to members of the public based upon their sexuality… An action that would ultimately make the equality act a joke, as it would enshrine inequality into British law.

We are living in a time where, although there are still legal battles for the LGBT community to fight in Britain, it is now more based on changing social attitudes. UKIP’s policies actively seek to curtail and even reverse this. Even ignoring the daft homophobic things their candidates say or do on a seemingly daily basis, these actions, in black and white and from the mouths of their policy makers ensure that UKIP is absolutely NOT a party that believes in LGBT equality.

Now, UKIP, for some reason I find hard to fathom given the party’s record, has a small but loyal LGBT contingent, who wish to be part of London Pride. I would not condone any action that leads to any LGBT person or ally being banned from the event, but the UKIP banner is just not welcome.

To all LGBT UKIPPERS… petition your party leadership. Make sure they commit to supporting LGBT rights and full equality for LGBT people in the law. Push them to recognise LGBT people as worthy of the same dignity and respect from everyone as any non-LGBT member of the public, and when you have done that… when you have a party that will renounce its policies to enshrine the religious choices of some over the fair and equal treatment of the LGBT community… when you have a party that sheds its utterly disgusting rhetoric about LGBT people trying to recruit school children in to what I can only imagine they believe to be some kind of pit of perpetual abuse and sexual degradation, then… THEN you will have a party whose banner has a place in the parade.

The organisations who march do so because they stand for equality. UKIP, as it stands right now, does not.

March with us, but march in the name of equality, not in the name of UKIP.

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Filed under anti-gay law, Bisexual, conscience clause, discrimination, equality, Equality Act, equality laws, Gay, homophobia, Lesbian, LGBT, LGBT issues, LGBT rights, LGBT UKIP, LONDON, MARCH, section 28, Transgender, UKIP