First world feminism, first world problems

We got it good, but it don't mean we should stop asking for equality!
Sure we got it good, but it doesn’t mean we should stop asking for equality!

Recently, the famous Somalian women’s rights activist, feminist, author and speaker Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been in the media for saying that western feminism is “Trivial BS”.*

Although, after reading the article and identifying what SHE said (in quotes) and what the AUTHOR said (not in quotes), it turned out she didn’t really say that at all, it still made me think…

Is western (i.e “my”) feminism trivial BS?

Well, I thought, to be honest, you can say almost ANY issue in the west is trivial BS compared to what goes on elsewhere. I’ll be the first to say that some of our worries and concerns are total trivial BS, we are after all, the “worried well” and we are so, so flipping lucky.

I mean, come on, #firstworldproblems.

  • Worried about too much sugar? In some countries they don’t even have food!
  • Worried about what school your kid goes to? In some places the one school they have is a 5 hour’s walk away and costs half the family’s monthly income.
  • Worried about your health? In some countries life expectancy is only around 40 years old.
  • Worried about your career? Speaking in world terms, you are damn lucky to even have a job.
  • Worried about where and how to birth? In many places in the world a woman has a 1/100 chance of dying during pregnancy and birth (that’s 100 per 100,000), compared to a scant 4 births per 100,000 (sorry I cannot do the maths) here in Spain.
  • Worry about some half-naked ladies on a man’s shirt? In some places women cannot leave the house without a male escort and are basically bought and sold by their families to other older men. In some countries women’s’ genitals are mutilated. In some countries women can’t vote, or own property, or divorce, or have the right to see their children if they do…

Really, thinking about it puts our daily worries in to sharp focus, and makes our “struggles” sounds like trivial BS.

So why, why do we still need to worry about feminism?

I thought about it and I came up with a few reasons that it resonates with me personally.

1) The gender pay gap. Why in our society do men earn more than women for the same job and same hours?
2) The sex and porn industry. Women being taken advantage of here, big time. Not nice.
3) Pregnancy and labour. There is a long way to go here. I have lost count of the women I know personally that have been treated with disrespect during this moment in their lives. 90% episiotomy rate here in Spain. This has to stop.

That is just my tiny list, at this point in my life. If I were younger I might be concerned about sexist banter, or date rape, or online trolling. If I were older it might be the fact that no women over 45 is shown presenting the news, that we “disappear” after a certain age.

Are these issues trivial BS? Compared to FGM and total submission to men, yes. But one doesn’t cancel out the other. We can still be incensed at FGM and also believe that women and men should receive equal pay.

So, in answer to my own question, yes western feminism is trivial BS compared to the rest of the world’s problems! And thank god for that, otherwise I wouldn’t be sitting here contemplating it, I wouldn’t have my own laptop, or free time, or the luxury to think and write and educate myself. Ironically, that’s all down to feminism past (thanks!).

But then, equality will always be worth contemplating and striving for, however BS-y it seems, however privileged we get, it will always be worth thinking about bringing us all up to the same privilege rather than leaving some down there, with less pay, or crappy vaginal scars or negative body images.

Lastly, I’m absolutely all for improving quality of life for women and girls (and men and boys, as it happens) around the world. And I also believe that charity starts at home.

 

 

* I had a little look around the articles that were published online and it was funny ‘cos a) they were all EXACTLY the same copy b) She didn’t actually say that western feminism itself is BS, she was actually criticising the uproar about the scientist who wore the shirt with the half-naked women on it.

If there are poeple wondering what on earth #shirtgate was all about, i.e why did those hysterical feminists go crazy about a shirt and make a man (a really clever man) apologise, think about this: gollywogs were on jam-jars when I was a kid…now they are not. Why? because they are a racial stereotype that we didn’t need. People (black people and white people) didnt like it. Perhaps if they were still around now, and a scientist came on air with a shirt full of gollywogs, perhaps a viral internet petition would have started and perhaps he would have apologised. So yes, as Ms. Ali says, uproar around a shirt can be seen as trivial BS, and on the other hand another stereotype publicly stood up to. #justsaying

PS Thanks t katrinaelsi for providing her wonderful photo entitled “Women at Work” for free on the Creative Commons.

 

First world feminism, first world problems

Click Power

Each click makes a choice: I wonder what types of choices this internet user is making?
I wonder what choices this internet user is making? By sharing this image, have I just supported something I disagree with?

I have a friend who loves a sad story about kids, another who has a thing about the abuse of animals, me, well I seem to have a penchant for stories about disrespecting women.

Hang on, this sounds really weird, I hear you say, kind of sick.

Well, dear reader, I’m just reflecting on The Things We Click On.

Come on ‘fess up, we all do it. Not because we “like” sad stories, but because we can’t resist them. The sadder, more depressing, miserable and shocking ones get the most reads. Negativity is a magnet. We are like moths to a flame.

“Social services criticised over baby xyz case”

“Animals kept in inhumane conditions before slaughter”

“X% of women under 18 say they have been sexually assaulted”

These are he kinds of things that garner our attention.

Now, I’m sure many of you are up to date with the law of attraction: what we see, hear, read and think about tends to manifest in our lives.

What happens then when the whole world is reading things like this?

Buddhists say that we actually create our world with our thoughts. It’s very easy to see that we create the internet with our interests, and with our clicks.

With every click we make, search engines and data analytics pick up on who follows the links, how long we spend on the articles, where we click next. Things that are clicked on grow and grow. And that’s not even the things that are actually shared and go viral.

It’s like neural pathways in the brain: the more they are used, the smoother, faster and easier they will run. And the stronger they will get. That’s how the internet is, things that are clicked on grow in strength, come up faster in searches, become part of our collective consciousness.

I’m not saying we shouldnt be informed. It’s crucial to be informed and the internet is an amazing tool, allowing us to communicate with each other as never before and pull the mask off many powers that be, as well as activate change and exchange vital information.

But, it is part of reality, a plastic ever changing organic entity, and we all have the power to create what type of reality it is.

Just as we can be wise and noble with our thoughts, we can be conscious with our clicks. Because they count.

PS Thanks to Daniel for making his photo, entitled Click-click, free for use on the Creative Commons.

Click Power

My honest thought-train on Kim Kardashian’s bum

What's all the fuss, it's just a couple of bums!
What’s all the fuss, it’s just a couple of bums!

Wow! Big bum.

Very. Small. Waist.

Hips: waist ratio very big. Sexy.

Whiter than I expected. Wonder if she’s naturally that pale. Brave. If that were me I definitely would have gotten a few sun-beds in before the shoot. I shouldn’t think that, I should be happy with my pale skin.

I’m not.

Wonder if she did the shot completely naked. Wonder if she came in in a bathrobe. Is she alone or is there an entourage? Did they see her naked? Did she worry about bikini wax before shoot. Duh! Of course she did, she probably has it waxed daily.

I wonder how “it” is waxed…

I really need to get a bikini wax. Even though it is winter and I’m not going anywhere near a bikini for at least 6 months. But I should be ‘presentable’ at all times. It bothers me that I don’t find my body in it’s natural state presentable. But, ugh, who wants hair. It makes me feel disgusting. I want to be smooth like Kim. At all times.

Shiny, her body is very shiny. Obviously baby oil. They must have sprayed her lots of times. Bet that felt horrible. Did they spray her all over, or just the back?

I wonder if she was cold. I bet she was cold. I would have been freeeeeezing.

This woman loves her bum. Good for her, I think I love her bum. I always wanted my bum to be bigger, and rounder, a bit like that. She’s had kids. I’ve had kids. I wish I could look a bit more like that.

I wonder how the world will see this. Is this important? Is it anti-feminist? Should I have a “view” on it? Wow, all my thoughts so far have been really superficial, shallow, vain and have lead back to my own insecurities about how I look and present myself… Should I be offended? Am I superficial? Am I a bad feminist?

Is this why constant bombarding of sexualised images of women is detrimental to our society’s mental health and view of women as a whole: it constantly reduces women to bodies, pieces of flesh, objects to be judged, eyed up, envied, lusted after, commented on, compared to…

How does this affect us as women? How does it affect men?

I’m curious to see other photos of her, but really I can’t be bothered.

Let’s see what’s going down on Twitter…

Aha…

I’ve been thinking about this, and I don’t think Kim Kardashian’s bum is either feminism or not feminism. It’s just a bum.

She’s right.
Ok. It’s all Ok.
My honest thought-train on Kim Kardashian’s bum

Not so funny

I get yet another link to kids having tantrums and I just want to scream.

The first time last year (on Facebook, predictably) a colleague, knowing I was a mother of children, thought she would show me “hilarious clips of kids losing it over nothing”.

It was children being filmed while being told that their parents have eaten or thrown away all their sweets. In these clips the children are very disturbed, crying and sobbing and obviously in a lot of anguish.

I don’t care how small the reason is (to us) the last thing I want to see are those kinds of emotional reactions. And to top it off they have been provoked by their own parents, called hilarious and then used to make a video that goes viral. I quite frankly find it almost abusive.

A child has little or no private life or privacy, they have relatively few things they can call their own that they are not forced to share, so “small” things mean a lot. Yes, it’s “just” sweets, but it belongs to them and stripping this from them makes them feel totally powerless.

Is watching an already powerless person be stripped of the little rights that they have funny?

How about “parents losing it when being told their house has been robbed” or “funny clips of people being told their loved ones have died in a car crash, then told it’s just a joke”. Hilarious.

This time I didn’t even follow the link, I couldn’t have watched. It annoys me that kids feeling are a) so undervalued and badly judged and b) taken advantage of and betrayed by their parents for the sake of a “funny” video.

Anyone else think it’s a bit weird?

Not so funny

TFI Friday?!

Working in an office, I would love a penny for every time I hear “It’s Friday!”, “At least it’s hump-day” (erm, that’s office speak for Wednesday, not ya birthday, just sayin’),  or “Ugh, Monday” in descending pitches of excitement.
Although I have learned the right things to say, usually just echo or nod, I don’t really agree.
Here’s a secret: I don’t get that “Friday feeling” and haven’t done ever since, let’s see… I had kids.

Pretty much how I feel about Fridays: "not bovvered"
Pretty much how I feel about Fridays: “not bovvered”

When I was a stay at home mum, I really enjoyed what I did, and tbh sometimes dad around at the weekend would throw a spanner in my works and it wouldn’t flow as much. The weekend was just another state with different rules, no better no worse.
Since starting work full-time again just over a year ago I work hard all week and it is challenging to fit it all in: school runs, pick ups, appointments, playdates, after school stuff, shopping and sorting house in the evening. But, I still don’t feel the weekend is a rest or a break or tbh that much different from the week. I still have what I would consider more than a full time job: taking care of a house and minding 3 children.

Also, although my renumareted job isn’t at all high flying or hugely exciting right now, I’m content. I have my desk, my stuff, I know what to do, I have nice colleagues, I drink my little coffees and have my little chats and I just get on with it. I would like to think that if I was literally ticking off the days backwards from Monday, I would know it was time to move on.

I’m not sure if my non-plussed attitude to Friday is a depressing fact, basically that my weekends are devoid of the fun or rest&relaxation that others look forward to, or that I’m actually more or less content with my life so don’t have to live solely for the weekend.

What I do know is that just as I don’t have TFI Friday syndrome, I also don’t have the dread of Monday. Which ain’t no bad thing, especially on a Sunday.

TFI Friday?!

Note to self: make time for you

Time, elusive for most parents. I have some time today because I’m in bed recovering from a nasty fever, but usually I have no such luxury.

In a life with no perceived time, we can easily fall into traps of bitterness. We can feel as if our lives are an endless circle of facilitating others’ needs: our kids, partners, friends and bosses.

They say “have some me time”. But how many people actually do it?

In my case, I have always taken the me time when it has almost been too late. When I’ve got to the point of hating my life, my partner, my kids, my friends and my job.

Why?

They say “take some me time”. Yet how many actually do it before the breakdown, before the happy pills, before the divorce?

If people did actually look after themselves so many other (harder) things would be avoided. This is why all this new stuff about radical self care and self love us really worth noting.

It is not selfish to look after your self first: it is the best gift you can give to you, and if you can’t stomach giving a gift to you (yet) it’s the best gift ever to those around you 😉

At the moment I’m making time for myself by taking Wednesday afternoons/evenings “off”. I’ve realised that my partner can absolutely handle the kids alone all evening (just as I do every other evening when he works). I plan to read, write, chant and see friends.

And fill my cup so I can start to be cheerful again. 

Note to self: make time for you