International Women’s Day 2018

Today we celebrate International Women’s Day 2018 and this year we also celebrate The Year of the Woman. And we carry the movements of #TimesUp, #MeToo, #HeForShe and many others around our world as we see women capturing headlines and rising up, demanding for change. But why is this so important still? Why are we still fighting for change? And how are half the humans born on this planet still facing lives of inequality and injustice? These are questions we hear on a daily basis, so I hope, whoever and wherever you are, that this piece will bring you the knowledge, inspiration and the power to act now. Because the #TimeIsNow. Let’s #pressforprogress.

International Women’s Day is a day for everybody. Yes, everybody. It’s a day to look at our progress, our future and our current successes. And I don’t want to write a long-winded serious essay today so I’m just gonna give you guys a few facts, a list of women that are inspiring me today, and a lil empowerment for you all to take in.

I hear more often than ever the confused question of “but women are equal now?”. And, we have come a long way, it’s true. Thanks to the Pankhursts and tonnes of brave women who have been fighting for the last 100 years and since, well, forever, us women in the West are reasonably lucky. From the hills of Hollywood to the women in the workplace, women are finding their power and using their voice. But we are still not equal. And the women in the developing countries that exist around us are living in situations that we can’t even begin to imagine. Situations far from safety, far from luck, and even further from equality.

So, we fight on. And it’s not just women. For all you guys who are still reading but questioning your place in this global movement, this is for you too. For all the gender stereotypes, for equality for ALL genders, this is to smash that glass ceiling and bin the ideas around blue is for boys and crying is for girls. For everyone who identifies between the binary, this day is for you too. Because we all deserve a fair and equal chance in life filled with love, safety and opportunity.

A big problem surrounding gender inequality is poverty. Did you know that we can eradicate global poverty if we achieved these two words? Gender equality. Because poverty is sexist. 70% of the world poorest people are women. If we educated more girls, less girls would die at childbirth, less women would experience domestic abuse and violence, and more women would be able to push their family out of poverty, therefore breaking both cycles that threaten millions of people worldwide. The goal is 2030. Are you with me?

So, what are the facts? Why are we still fighting?

  • Because out of the millions of human trafficking victims, you’ll find 8 out of 10 of them are females.
  • Because women are more likely to be victims of rape and domestic violence than from cancer, war, car accidents and malaria. This blows my mind.
  • Because 250 million girls alive today were married before their 15th This is worse for girls as they are more likely to die from childbirth, more likely to be victims of abuse and violence and less likely to receive education than they’re male counterparts or if they were married 5 years later as adults.
  • Because in the US, women earn on average 78 cents for every man’s dollar.
  • Because we all know Ed Westwick, Donald Trump, Ben Affleck, Harvey Weinstein, Dustin Hoffman. These men of power, status and money have all had allegations of harassment, sexual assault and sexual’ misconduct made against them. And they’re just a few names! Imagine how many more there are, how many names we’ll never hear still.
  • Because half the world is female. Because it affects the most privileged white woman from the US, to the poorest Asian woman from the Philippines. That should be reason enough.

And here are my people of the year…

  • Gloria Allred. I actually had no idea who this woman was until a few weeks ago when I watched her documentary on Netflix (called Seeing Allred) and became in awe. She’s a modern-day heroine whose name is behind some of the biggest headlines of our year, yet her name is not celebrated or even well-known. Allred is a woman’s attorney in America, fighting especially on high profile cases that victimise and twist the rights of women. Cases against Weinstein, O.J Simpson and Donald Trump. She takes a lot of stick, but due to her own experiences and passion for justice, Allred fights on and is truly a force to be reckoned with.
  • Angelina Jolie. We all know her, we’ve all seen her movies but not everyone knows what she’s up to today. She’s my inspo in so many ways. Of course, she’s great in films, and we’ve all seen her grow and mature through them all, but her best work is the work she does for humanity. Jolie has used her fame and platform to do good, speak up and invest in those that need it the most. What a woman. She works for the UN, LSE, helps refugees, women and children, and has also directed the incredible movie First They Killed My Father, which you can also find on Netflix!
  • Nazra Akter is an advocate for women and worker’s rights in Bangladesh. She’s worked in sweatshops from the age of 13 and has experienced hardship, abuse and inequality in the workplace. So, she started a women’s union party and continues to fight every day for the safety and lives of women. Women like her make our t-shirts, socks and trousers. It’s time women and their work were given more recognition, respect and money than our clothes. Our fashion industry is full of sexism, inequality and absolute horrors. I’m currently researching and writing about it but you can start by signing this petition; https://act.careinternational.org.uk/letter_garment_factories
  • Me and you. We have the power and platform to be just as incredible as these three women (we could give it a good go anyway!). The world needs more activists and feminists. These shouldn’t be scary, demonised words. They are brave, bold and life-changing. Encourage it, encourage yourself and encourage everyone around you. Can we achieve gender equality by 2030? Not without me and you. Are you with me?

IWD 2018 is all about being brave, standing up for what’s right, becoming everyday activists and taking action into our own hands!

Whether you’re young, old, male, female, black, white and everything in between know that

you are valued

you are loved

you are worthy

you deserve respect

you deserve to be heard

you can change the future,

you can change lives and

you can start today.

Are YOU with me?

Have a great day. Go kick some ass. Let’s change the world.

Vanisha

X

So, how can you join me? –

Sign a petition:

https://www.one.org/us/take-action/poverty-is-sexist/

https://act.careinternational.org.uk/letter_garment_factories

Listen:

Listen to women. Trust us. Believe us.

Speak out:

Whenever you see an injustice, a threat or any form of inequality, call it out and use your voice. And use your voice anyway! Show ya support. I wanna hear you not just today, but every day.

Support:

There are so many people and organisations that you can follow and support today. I’ll give ya these to start with…

– Mision Mexico

– Care International

– UN women

– Humanity Unified

Live out your activism:

Let the fight for equality go beyond just statuses and today. Make an effort to make it a real part of you. You’re a life-changer.

And support me!

I’ll be doing a fundraising event in April for March4women, follow me on social media to see how you can support that and keep up to date with me and my ramblings @vanishamay

** art by @thisisaliceskinner, check her out too!

Man up! Man down. The effects of the hook-up culture and the male identity. 

I’ve been analysing and reading about the phenomenon of the hook-up culture and what it means to be a part of it, and it’s clear to see the gender differences and the impacts it has on all parties, whether recognised or not, and whether wanted or not. There’s lots of research about the effects on women and girls, and I’d tend to write about it as a woman myself, however, recently I’ve been thinking a lot about men and the effects it has, the pressure involved and the ideas behind their behaviour.

As a fighting feminist, I think it’s incredibly important and necessary to look also at men and their roles, their oppression and not to bring them down but to bring them to attention and to an understanding so that they too can explore option and live their lives without judgement on how they should perform their masculinity and to what extent. Feminism isn’t about excluding men or hating them, it’s about equality. So maybe if there was a focus on the role of men, the fight for equality for women would be helped too? Hmmm…

So guys…
Want to have a long and loving relationship? Cool. Want to have multiple hook-ups and no commitment? Cool. Want them relationships to be with the same sex? Cool. Want them relationships to be with all sexes? Cool. Want them relationships to be explored whilst your identity is not so socially defined and your gender role is neither ‘male’ or ‘female’? Cool. Want none of that or something else? That’s cool too.

As a sociologist, (and this is my little rant section) the more I’m forced to analyse and think about gender roles, social performances and constructs, the more I hate people and society. Lol and the more I realise we’re all doomed, but let’s keep the positivity as always guys! I’m more aware than ever before of why I behave the way I do, the reasons behind my actions and all the rest of it. And although this is both a blessing and a curse (because I over-analyse EVERYTHING), it makes me realise more how unintentionally, and unknowingly brainwashed so many people are. There’s no real blame here, but maybe we should all be questioning who we are and our place in society….

The hook-up culture holds huge responsibility in enforcing typical gender roles, especially on men. Currier, 2013, argues that there’s a “hyper-focus on heterosexuality and sexual activity, and the importance of bonding with or impressing men, is much more than bonding or impressing women”. In the article that I read, Currier, West and Zimmerman all argued how “men were doing masculinity on ways that made them more accountable to other men”, and that through the activities of hook-ups, they hoped to raise their status and make names for themselves, which is usually the opposite strategy for women who fear slut-shaming. This all shows the pressure and importance of performances, like having sex and having a lack of respect towards women and their bodies, in order to show off to ya mates and boost what it means to be heterosexual and male.

Connell argues that “heterosexual men are not excluded from the basic capacity to share experiences, feelings and hope. This ability is often blunted, but the capacity for caring and identification is not necessarily killed”. So many are often stuck between how they want to act and how they think they should act etc. Relating it to the hook-up culture is so relevant as it influences and holds its own expectations of ‘doing gender’ and ‘being a man’.

Anyway, going back to my point, it seems men don’t have it all figured out, and things can be pretty tough for them too. And as an example of some guys that I know, those that tend to strut around with egos as big as their need to conform, are actually some of the most damaged I know too. So what does this say? And I’m not saying men are to blame for this, or that it’s all men because it definitely is not, but as a society, do we need to look more at breaking these ideas of what it means to ‘be a man’?

“The number of heterosexual men working on these issues is still small. I don’t think there is anything in itself admirable about being a dissident. I look forward to the day when a majority of men, as well as a majority of women, accept the absolute equality of the sexes, accept sharing of childcare and all other forms of work, accept freedom of sexual behaviour, and accept multiplicity of gender forms, as being plain common sense and the ordinary basis of civilised life.” – Connell, 2014

This is only a little analysis that I did super quickly (because I’m supposed to be writing a dissertation!) but the thoughts came up while doing some research and I’d love to know what you all think? Do you think ‘maleness’ and the related expected behaviour is a real issue and needs to be recognised more? Should we be questioning our roles within the phenomenon of our hook-up culture? Is it time something changed with ‘maleness’ for the benefit of everyone? Could it ever change or is it changing already? Could change mean that men might feel lost in their identities or would they become empowered and free? All thoughts, just thoughts…. Feel free to share yours too!

Have a good day and thanks for reading!

V