Tag 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

PRIDE IN THE UK

UK PRIDE

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Who gets to define our identity?

Every time sour-faced bint Julie Burchill plops out another scathing article, the attached comments section comes alive with vigorous debate. Julie’s stance on Gender Identity is well known… she believes that Trans people shouldn’t have the right to live fully as their own perception of their identity would dictate… and on the attached forums and comment threads there are many responses both for and against her assertions.

Now my views on Burchill are on record and I will save any further criticism of her until the next time she gets sand in her vagina over Trans people having rights and pinches out another opinion piece in order to desperately seem ‘cutting edge’ and relevant. But it leaves me wondering about the identity of everyone, and who it is that gets to define us.

Of course we get to define a lot about ourselves. We can express ourselves through fashion or creative outlets. Being an old-skool Goth with a thing for black lace, satin, heavy eyeliner and masses of hair (and that’s just pre-transition) was never questioned, and I took the rough with the smooth. For all the times I walked down the street in a long leather coat and had barely polysyllabic simpletons shouting ‘Matrix’, ‘Goth’ and the imaginative ‘Fuckin… fuckin… goth! Fuckin… matrix… fuckin…’ not one of them felt the need to go ‘Pfft, you’re not fooling anyone!’ That was left to other Goths.

So my identity as a Goth wasn’t questioned by the masses, only by a select few who felt my identity as a Goth detracted from their own. Why is it then, that Trans people are so often challenged on their identity? Why is it that someone presenting as a Goth is accepted as such without question, when someone presenting as the opposite gender to their birth sex creates divided opinions? I wonder, were subcultures, music tastes or football teams assigned at birth like Gender, if there would be a lot more hostility towards people who don’t conform to these labels.

There is a struggle between how we define ourselves, and the labels that are assigned to us to make us more easily identifiable. I have sadly known many people that assign their own prejudices and preconceptions to the identity of someone because of their race, religion, gender or sexuality. Trayvon Martin, for example. The assertion of someone else’s opinion of his identity led to his being murdered, and the perceptions of others regarding race, led to Trayvon’s murderer walking free.

What about when prejudice over identity is enshrined in law? What about where it is illegal to be gay, such as Nigeria, Uganda, Iran, Saudi Arabia or any of the other grotty little piss-hole nations out there? Even though any reputable scientist will attest to the role of Nature in determining one’s sexuality, these nations impose the added aspect of ‘criminal’ to the identity of anyone who happens to be born a certain way.

Ultimately the issues over Gender Identity and sexuality are caused by good old fashioned sexism. Think about it, if we weren’t raised to assign different values to people based on their gender, then there wouldn’t be such a clash of belief structures when one person failed to conform to gender roles. With same sex people, it is those who appear to adopt the roles or characteristics of the opposite sex who face the most ridicule. ‘Butch’ Lesbians with their stereotypically more masculine appearance, or effeminate, overly camp men who give a lot of attention to their hair and speak with a softer voice are given a harder time than those who have a more typical, conventional appearance or behaviour. People take comfort in an established order and so are reluctant to challenge it, even when they are in the perceived inferior camp (i.e. Women). Better to be bottom of a stable pile than the top of a shakey one right?

If there were a universal sense of equality between men and women, Gender roles would be irrelevant and so anyone who identified differently would not be seen as either degrading themselves or trying to elevate themselves above their station. There is a massive correlation, I find, in those who have a very strong sense of Gender roles, and who express homophobic and transphobic opinions, while conversely those who are more accepting of LGBT persons are also very critical of any gender divide.

So for my initial thoughts about identity, the very concept of identity is changing. Time was that, at birth, you were assigned your Sex, Race and Social Class with all the accompanying expectations. They were immutable, set in stone and enshrined in scripture. Even radical feminists like Burchill, who espouse the artificiality of gender roles, still cling to that ‘olde worlde’ view that some aspects of identity are pre-ordained.

This leads me to ask. Who has the RIGHT to define our identity?

My answer: We do, and the only other people who get a say are those who love us, and those we hurt. If I were to callously break someone’s heart, then I would deserve the title of ‘bitch’. If I murdered someone, I would deserve to be labelled a murderer, but I do not see how one’s relationship to traditional gender roles is causing harm to others, and surely if those who love us truly do so, then they will accept us no matter where I am on the spectrum.

So basically, in the grand scheme of things, blowhards and hate preachers can bang on about gender roles all they like, but that will not change who I am, nor how I see myself. It helps to have a slew of scientists, psychiatrists and the British legal system on my side.

All this is coming from someone who can legally have an ‘F’ on her passport.

Boo-yar!!!!

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Here we go again with UKIP

Here is the Pink News article to which I am responding

http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2014/03/05/ukip-councillor-businesses-allowed-turn-away-gays-women/

Donna Edmunds, a UKIP councillor in East Sussex seems to think that it is the right of every business to refuse service to anyone, be they male, female, gay, straight, black, white, asian, muslim, christian, whatever.

Seriously? It seems like a week cannot go by without some member of the party saying or doing something absolutely fucking moronic. In every instance Nigel Farage states that the views of the individual do not represent the views of UKIP… well, sorry Nige but it actually kinda looks like they do.

I just don’t understand the logic here. It would ensure whole areas of the country would become de facto ‘no-go’ areas for certain minority groups. Is that really a world that UKIP want to live in? …what the hell am I saying, of course it is! Everyone would be able to hide in their little boxes, with with their little prejudices, growing and fermenting.

“Dear Post Office. I refuse to be served by a black Postman. Please send a white one and make sure no nigs, nogs, darkies and spear chuckers have touched my letters.”

“Sorry ma’am, the customer looks a little too homosexual for my tastes so I will refuse to serve him.”

“A Woman??? In a PUB?????”

“Well yes, I am a fully trained paramedic, I just don’t don’t ‘do’ Muzzos”

All that would happen is that resentment and bigotry would reproduce itself over and over until we are all one nation of little fortresses with ‘No girls’ or ‘No Armenians’ or whatever scrawled on the doors.

If you want to do business in this country, you make an agreement with the government to not discriminate against anyone, be they a minority, or a majority. It is not like the laws are only in place for small groups as White people, Christians, Men, Heterosexuals are all protected by equality laws from this same discrimination. What seems to be coming out of UKIP, one loose lipped lunatic at a time, is that the individual has no responsibility to society as a whole. Am I the only person who thinks that’s fucking dangerous?

Tamz

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