Why feminism is an important influence on my parenting

By Sarah Keensarah1

The moment it was time for me to put my infant daughter in the car seat to take her home from the hospital, I began to cry. It wasn’t a soft cry, it was an ugly hysterical cry. I was terrified to take this tiny human into the cruel, challenging world. Looking at her tiny body in that big seat that was made to protect her, I felt helpless. I wanted to wrap my body around that seat the entire car ride home as I realized it wasn’t just her tiny body that I needed to protect – it was also her mental well-being.

I feared:

  • Body image – I had bought her a bikini swimming suit because she was born in June and I thought it to be cute. But that moment in the car I realized the swim suit was not cute and that it was a way to sexualize her body. I made the decision that neither she nor I was going to conform to such beauty standards.
  • Confidence – I thought of all my shortcomings and fears and I wanted to protect her from such experiences. I wanted for her to be comfortable in her skin, to be assertive in every aspect of her life.
  • Sex – I realized that for only so long could I protect her from learning, talking, thinking, and having sex. Teaching her self-respect became a top priority in the way I chose to parent.

Overall, I was scared shitless to have this tiny baby girl when women are perceived as weak and vulnerable. I knew on that car ride home that my feminist background was going to be an important tool to raising not just a strong, successful woman, but also a socially responsible woman.

Danielle’s Feminist Movie Playlist

By Danielle Lyons

Along with my books, I do love movies with a strong female lead. Who doesn’t like to see a woman come out on top? These are the ten movies I think of, when I think of empowering feminist films.5536183455_863d3b2fed_b

  1. Foxfire Set in the 1990’s, a group of teenage girls take on a teacher that is targeting young females in his science class. They didn’t know just what they would set in motion or how it would bond them forever.
  1. Frida This movie chronicles the life of feminist icon and artist, Frida Kahlo. From her accident on the trolley to the meeting of Diego Rivera, she remained her own person.
  1. Mona Lisa Smile Katherine Watson is an art professor in a traditional all girls university in the 1950’s. Determined to teach these girls about art and its diversity, she finds it more difficult than she anticipated.  Katherine finds herself challenging the traditional roles these women have been raised to follow.
  1. Bend it Like Beckham Jess Bhamra, is a teenager in London who has a passion for soccer. Her parents find it a frivolous use of time and actively discourage her. Determined to find her own way, Jess plays for a local team. And along the way learns a lot about herself.
  1. Matilda Matilda was born into a family who does not understand her. More often than not she is ignored and put-upon. She is a very bright girl despite her start in life, and discovers a passion for reading, a skill in which she has taught herself. Matilda is a very special girl, in more ways than one. All of this comes to a head when she starts her biggest adventure: School. This film is an absolute classic.
  1. A League of their Own This movie follows a group of women playing baseball in America’s first all-women’s league. Together these incredible athletes overcome sexism, tragedy, loss and the demands the world of baseball has to offer. These women absolutely prove that our place isn’t just in the kitchen. It’s wherever we want to go.
  1. Kill Bill Volume’s 1 & 2 This two part tale is about trained assassin, Beatrix “Black Mamba” Kiddo. After an attempted assassination from former comrades, she wakes up from a coma with one goal in mind. Revenge. She embarks on a journey to take back all that was taken from her.
  1. Clueless At first look, Cher can be seen as an airhead. As the story unfolds, Cher unknowingly gets a ‘Make Over,’ of her own. After some thought, Cher attempts to lead a more purposeful life. Although, you may have to dig, there are some definite girl power themes in this film.
  1. Persepolis This film is about an Iranian woman named, Marjane Strapi. Marjane learns a great deal about life, government, rebellion, music, love and growing up. This tale is delicately weaved, and leaves you wanting more.
  1. Boys on the Side Three women head out on a cross country road trip.  These women bond completely as their trip results in a traumatic event. This movie is filled with sisterhood and trying to overcome the impossible situations we find ourselves in. By far, one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen.

Opera with a Dash of Feminism

By Logan Snook

Fun fact…I am an opera singer. I get to sing beautiful, passionate music, express dramatic, powerful text, and depict many characters who are objectified by men. Feminism and female empowerment is maybe not the most prevalent theme in operas. One of the difficulties with being in opera today is handling the antiquated role of women in the theater. Female singers play their fair share powerless women, or women controlled by their male counterparts. Not the best message to send, right? What makes it worse is when the male roles just don’t know when to back off.Carmen

How about some examples. Let’s take a look at the opera Carmen. We like to think of Carmen as a strong, independent woman who is owned by no man, but in the end, it is a man who is her demise. Basically, Don José, a soldier, falls in love with Carmen, a gypsy. She tells him over and over again that she will not be tied down. When she falls in love with a bull-fighter, he is overtaken with jealousy, and stabs Carmen to death outside the bull-ring.

In her first aria, Carmen explicitly tells José that her love cannot be tamed. This conversation becomes a theme between the two of them throughout the opera, but does José ever listen? Definitely not. Does he continue to pursue her, even though she has expressed her disinterest? He sure does. So, what would have happened if José had respected Carmen’s sentiments in the first place? Luckily, Reddit/r/Feminism has already taken care of that for us:

Carmen:

I’m really not into monogamy. I will sing a whole song detailing this explicitly.

Don José:

I think you’re really hot and I want to run away with you.

Carmen:

Well, we can have lots of passionate sex for a while, but again–I don’t do long term relationships. Didn’t you hear all the singing in Act I?

Don José:

You know, maybe our relationship goals aren’t compatible.

Carmen:

No s**t, Sherlock. Bye.

 

Wow. Well that was effective. Thanks to Satiricali, 5 standard-repertory operas, ranging from 113-230 year-old, are brought to the 21st century through feminism! Let’s take a look at one more.

Madama Butterfly is centered on a 15-year-old Japanese geisha, Cio-Cio-San Madama_Butterfly(Butterfly), who is set up in an arranged marriage to wed American naval officer, Pinkerton. Pinkerton views the marriage as a temporary situation, knowing after he serves in Japan he will return home and marry American woman. Cio-Cio-San and Pinkerton wed, and he leaves his new bride shortly after their marriage. Cio-Cio-San has his son, and waits for his return for 3-years. He finally returns, bringing with him his American bride. After agreeing to give her son up to Pinkerton and his new wife, Cio-Cio-San, rather than living a life of shame, decides to die in honor and stabs herself.

AWFUL storyline for a feminist. Let’s see what it looks like with “Feminism” added:

 

Pinkerton:

I love you and I want to marry you.

Butterfly:

Are you aware that I’m 15 years old right now?!

Pinkerton:

Yeah, I’m especially attracted to how innocent and delicate and exotic you are. Oh, and by the way I have to leave the country right after we have sex a few times.

Butterfly:

That sounds highly suspicious, not to mention incredibly creepy. Get the f*** out of my house, you imperialist bigamist pedophile.

 

Ahhh…that’s better.

Luckily, modern opera is flourishing and addressing the issue of women’s roles on the stage. Strong and influential women are on the trend, while helpless and dependent is on the way out (and thankfully, dominating male roles are slowly becoming less favorable). I say keep that trend coming! Personally, if someone wants to write an opera about Simone de Beauvoir, give me a call.

Want to read the other operas made shorter through Feminism? Go here!

An Open Letter from your Vulva

by Danielle Lyons

Hey,

It’s me, your Vulva. Perhaps you and I got off on the wrong foot. I feel as if I get a bad rap or am known for being gross. Even Erin Mckelle from Everyday Feminism says, “We’ve created an entire culture around what vulvas are ‘supposed’ to look like, leaving a huge portion of the vagina-having population feeling less-than.” I feel like our relationship is a bit lacking. I was hoping to better that. Maybe get to know each other better. Because let’s face it, I’m a part of you. Literally. Let’s reacquaint ourselves shall we?

Diagram_showing_the_anatomy_of_the_vulva_CRUK_285.svg

By Cancer Research UK (Original email from CRUK) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

There are some things that you should know about me. Now, don’t be intimidated, I’m just going to tell you what I’m made of. You’ll notice my Mons Pubis, which is the fatty tissue covering the pubic symphysis. Then we have the Labia Majora and Labia Minor. Often referred to as the inner and outer lips. Then, of course, the stars of the show are the vaginal opening and the clitoris. Last but certainly not least is the urethra and the anus. Not too scary huh? If you’re still yearning for some more information about me, hop on Our Bodies Ourselves. They have a pretty nifty diagram and extensive information.

Let’s face it, there is a certain ideal that vulvas are held to. That ideal is usually compact, hairless and delicate looking. Which is a total crock. We vulva’s come in many different colors, shapes sizes and haircuts. Unfortunately, that diversity is hardly recognized or represented. This leaves so many women pondering the question, “Do I have an ugly vulva?” Hannah M. Brasswell of Bleeding Feminism agrees, “Lack of information leaves many young (and old!) people under the impression that there’s something “wrong” or “abnormal” about their vulvas.” So, if you’re worried about how I look, don’t! I’m unique in my own right. Ignore all the hype. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with how I look. I’m downright amazing, no need to be ashamed.

Sincerely,

Your Vulva

The Male Feminists of Tinder

by Thea Voutiritsas

tumblr_o0x1i3lRvR1v0fn3ao1_1280tumblr_nzufhpiYuP1v0fn3ao1_1280I recently tumblr_o18fxvPrPE1v0fn3ao1_1280stumbled across this tumblr, and nearly died laughing. Comedian Lane Moore has been collecting screenshots of all of the men on Tinder who use feminism to attract dates. Of course, I’m happy when a person of any gender chooses to identify as a feminist, but a few of these profiles are missing the mark. I have to say it’s a bit frustrating to see feminism used in this way. It’s a ploy that trivializes actual feminism. Yes, male allies are important to feminism, but I question the sincerity of these tinder users. I can’t say that these people are not truly feminists, but this little bear trap they’ve set ain’t workin’ any time soon. The tumblr page is still quite new, and users are able to submit their own photos. I’m interested to see if the collection grows, or if it is just an awkward little blip between culture and technology.

 

Feminism: The beast who must not be named

By Thea Voutiristsas

UN Women

UN Women

Back in September 2014, Emma Watson gave a speech on gender equality, formally extending an invitation to all men to join the HeforShe movement. She argued that fighting for women’s rights is too often equated to man-hating, and called for a stop to this belief. Setting the record straight that feminism is about equality of the genders, not the advancement of women over men. Believe it or not, she was even asked not to use the word “feminism” in her speech. She told the Evening Standard:

“I was encouraged not to use the word feminism because people felt that it was alienating and separating and the whole idea of the speech was to include as many people as possible. But I thought long and hard and ultimately felt that it was just the right thing to do. If women are terrified to use the word, how on earth are men supposed to start using it?”

Elle UK Photoshops Men out of the Workplace

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Source: Elle Magazine UK

By Thea Voutiristsas

… then we ran out of workers. In an effort to highlight the inequality across different industries, the magazine created this video and the hashtag “#morewomen” in honor of its November Feminism issue. In just 45 seconds, the video illustrates quite dramatically how many instances where women are represented by only a single female. While remaining quite playful, the magazine’s entire movement attempts to change the portrayal of successful women as “selfish,” “competitive,” and “catty.” As the magazine posted:

The story of how women in positions of strength continually support and empower each other is consistently ignored while the myth that we pit ourselves against each other perpetuates. We want to change this narrative in our Feminism issue and create a more positive conversation – to reflect the power of women, and to support and grow each other as we push for global equality.

Click here to find out more about the movement.

Roxane Gay TED Talk

By Matiara Huff

Back in May, Roxane Gay did a great TED Talk. My favorite part, and the part that I see as the truest, is when she talked about Beyoncé. Roxane talked about how although Beyoncé performed in front of a 10 foot sign that said “feminist” at the VMA’s, people still graded Beyoncé’s feminism and debated if it were real or not. She continued to say that because we need so much, we tend to go far beyond constructive criticism; we dissect any given women’s feminism until there is nothing left. I can relate to this as I have seen women “call out” other women’s feminism and declare their feminism is not real. These women negated other women’s feminism because their feminism wasn’t the same.

Telling other women that there not real feminist is just as bad as fighting against feminism. We have to remember that all of us became feminist for different reasons, and our diversity is what makes feminism. Roxane Gay is a great feminist because she considers herself a bad feminist, and she understands that feminist can’t be perfect, and that’s what make a good feminist.

Natural Hair

By Torshawna Griffin

Natural hair has recently become a growing fad causing many African American women to leave the dark side and embrace their natural tresses. However, not everyone understands the journey. In my experience, not everyone accepts the choice and this is a feminist issue. Natural hair women often get stared at and receive rude comments about our hair being “untamed” or “unprofessional.”

With all the celebrities that claim to be behind the feminist movement, why is natural hair not an issue within feminism? I believe that this is due to a large number of feminist aligning with what modern feminist consider “old White woman” feminism. Individuals that hold “old White woman” feminism ideas are blind to the intersection of racism and sexism and its impact on women of color. Take for instance Nicki Minaj speaking up against sexism and racism at the Video Music Awards. When Nicki spoke up, Taylor did no to help Nicki stand up for Black woman artists. Instead, Taylor told Nicki that she should be ashamed of herself for putting woman artists against each other. If Taylor Swift would understand the impact of the intersection of sexism and racism, she would have stood by Nicki Minaj’s side.

This brings me back to natural hair. Why is it that our lighter counter parts don’t stand with us when it comes to our decision of embracing ourselves? For me, my natural hair makes me unique. No one out there has hair like me and that makes me stand out in a crowd. My natural hair makes me proud to be an African American woman and makes me more AfroCentric. I love being natural and I wish that more feminist would love it too. Celebrating, rather than shaming, natural hair can help us all by unifying us. If we are unified, then we can focus our energy to advance women’s equity.