Professional pounder of the patriarchy.

Posts tagged ‘youtube’

“Time to make a difference” – Jack Monroe

“Austerity is necessary; we need to tighten our belts. What about when those belts are tightened around the necks of the most desperate who hang themselves from the rafters because their benefits have been cut? Because that was a friend of mine.

A powerful talk by Jack Monroe, writer and activist, on their experience of poverty. In order to help other families who were struggling to raise children on less than £10 a week, Monroe began sharing cheap recipes on their blog Cooking on a Bootstrap. You can find them as @MxJackMonroe on Twitter.

“What does a Feminist Society even do?”

Short answer: a lot. 

I got this question loads when I first told people that I was going to run a feminist society. I still get asked and I’ve already presented a third of my planned sessions (we finish next March). You might be wondering too – or, potentially, you want to run your own feminist group and don’t know what to talk about!

A point in my previous article about running a feminist society was that you should start by deciding what type of group you want to be. This is true of all good collectives – you should have an ultimate goal. Our group’s goal is simply to broaden our horizons as much as possible and to discover, together, what feminism means in today’s global society. Sometimes, that means we have to look back at the work of our foremothers, examining how they shaped the feminist movement we know and love, as well as acknowledging their failings and faults. Other times, it means that we must consider what our personal activism has to look like in order to create the future we want and need. We are a group rooted in the past, the present and the future.

But that might not be what you want. The feminist society you envision might not have many debates or discussions (like mine does – we do talk a lot!). It might be an action group, in which you organise protests, demonstrations, fundraisers and awareness events. That’s important and valid too, and you might like to incorporate those things even if yours will be a discussion group. For example, in honour of International Women’s Day next year, we’re planning to raise money for a women’s shelter and organise a showing of a feminist film in our college’s lecture theatre.

Another concern I’ve seen in forums and message boards is this: how do I come up with ideas for my sessions? A challenge indeed! I got started early, as soon as I was given the go-ahead to run the club. Sessions started in September, but I had planned all my allotted sessions by the end of June. This is definitely advisable; it gives you ample time to research (and design any PowerPoint presentations you might want!).

For our debates, I tried to stick to a “theme” for each half-term. The first half-term has been all about the history of the women’s movement and its foundations, as well as exploring intersectionality and diversity. We discussed the “waves” system, separatist and cultural strains of feminism (i.e. womanism, chicanisma), TERFs and early radical feminism. That made sense to me – it meant that everyone was on the same level and had the same grounding in feminist history. Our second set of sessions will focus more on politics and human rights, and how feminism supports and intersects with these.

Pro-tip: Google a ton of human rights awareness days and create your discussions based on these! There’s International Women’s Day (8th March), International Men’s Day (19th November), International Day For The Elimination of Violence Against Women (25th November), Menstrual Hygiene Day (28th May), Human Rights Day (10th December) and many, many more! If there’s an existing day of recognition, you’ll usually find it easier to discover resources online. IWD has an official website with downloadable information and activities, as do many of the others in the previous list.

You might also want to shake it up and show documentaries in your sessions (if you have access to a computer, screen and projector). Documentaries can be a fantastic way to engage your group in challenging discussions, especially if they are a little bit quiet to start with! It gives them (and you!) something to respond to, rather than forcing you to come up with an amazing point under pressure! If you want to incorporate this, YouTube is your best friend. I already had a few documentaries that I desperately wanted to show, but it’s quick and easy to type “feminist documentary” into YouTube if you need ideas. I’d recommend watching them first though!!! (There will soon be a “resources” page in the top-right corner of my blog, where I’ll link to documentaries we’ve shown/will show in the group.) You could also play music from feminist artists – we’re going to have a session on the riot grrrl movement of the 1990s. Maybe you could try craft activities, like handmade zines or posters.

Really, the best thing you can do is ask. What issues are your members passionate about? What do they want to talk about? What do they want to learn?

That’s all my advice for today, folks! Best of luck if you’re researching for and planning a feminist group. If not, why not? ūüėČ

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“Women Transform Into Their Idols” – BuzzFeed

I just watched this super cute video from¬†Ladylike, a series by BuzzFeed. In this episode, the team get to dress up as their female role-models. It’s¬†amazing.¬†I loved all their reasons for choosing these women as their role-models, and their choices¬†said a lot about what each¬†Ladylike¬†member finds important in their own identity.

 

Let’s Get Critical

This will probably be a bit of a long’un, but Owen Jones’ post was no little’un either. It’s his fault. (It’s not, it’s not. It’s mine for having such long conversations with myself about the state of the left and then wanting to write them down.)

Also, I’ve called him “Owen” a lot in this, which is not very professional. Referring to him as simply “Jones” felt clunky and patronising, like I’m his Maths teacher.

Guardian columnist and political commentator Owen Jones published a blog post last month regarding the current turmoil within the Labour Party (which you can read here). The blog post you’re reading right now (significantly less articulate than his) was supposed to be published some weeks ago. The problem was: I kept changing it. In the end, I thought: “Eh, other people have tweeted him better responses in under 140 characters. Get over yourself, girl.” Yesterday, however, Owen treated us all to a video concerning the same issue, in a nice manageable eight-minute chunk, and I thought: Do it. Write it. Go on. Double donkey dare you.

The post (and the new accompanying video) simply asks Jeremy Corbyn supporters (Corbynites? Corbynions?) to consider nine questions concerning Corbyn’s next move and the next move of the Labour Party generally. These questions concerned policies, strategies to win over particular voting demographics (e.g. Conservative voters, over-44s) and also the party’s “vision” or ultimate goal.

Fair play, I thought. I’ve wondered that myself, and I even have a Corbyn shrine.

As for the fine folk of Twitter? Not so much. Their stance after the blog post’s release was more along the lines of “Blairite careerist sellout”. Which was rude. Funny, undoubtedly, but rude. As a result, my own response started off as a “Leave Owen Jones alone” petition, directed at the aforementioned barrage of irate Twitter users who took offense at the blog post on behalf of Jeremy Corbyn/Labour/Karl Marx’s pet goldfish.

Then this post mutated into a musing on how difficult it is to hold an even slightly controversial opinion in any movement. I’ve considered the whole fiasco (it was a bit of a fiasco) over the past month and came to the conclusion that, actually, I could empathise quite a bit with Owen (just without the powerful political mind, numerous television appearances, bestselling books and gorgeous cat*). The pressure to avoid divisive opinions is far from exclusive to the left, and I think about it a lot within the context of feminism. You might recognise my dilemma too. You see someone speaking out about feminism and you want to support them – you really, really do – but they’re just so problematic. You can’t say “No, you’re representative of neither me nor feminism”, because then that divides the movement and sets us against each other (in the same way that the Labour Party feels – and, to a large extent, is – divided right now). I always feel especially guilty having these thoughts if the public figure in question is a woman.

Furthermore, you can’t be left-wing and live in a bubble, just like I can’t be a feminist and do so. I can protest that I don’t want to dilute feminism and make it palatable to men and anti-feminists, but that’s really not very helpful.  To paraphrase Owen’s point about knocking on doors in the video: the whole point of a movement, political or social, is to persuade. Acknowledging and engaging with the people who don’t agree with you is never very fun, but, within the context of any kind of campaign or cause, it is necessary. There’s no point if all the people already on board are just going to stand around drinking squash and saying: “Well, I think Jezza Corbz is a top lad and I don’t give a rat’s arse if nobody else does.”

He is indeed a top lad, but Tories, the over-65 bracket, most of the (former) Shadow Cabinet and also my stepdad aren’t convinced. (Truthfully, my stepdad just does not like Corbyn. Thankfully, he likes Owen Smith, the alternative, even less.) Owen is totally right (not that he needs my approval); that’s definitely where we’re** going wrong. All his suggestions for how Labour ought to continue were justified and implementing them would meet the needs of the vulnerable people that Labour are meant to protect and would provide what others are seeking.

I’d add – if I were anywhere near qualified enough to comment – that, alongside support for older people, Labour should be encouraging a rethink regarding how the NHS budget (what little there is) is distributed. Mental health is still not given parity with physical health. I know it’s a cliche at this point, which disturbs me deeply. Many of my close friends and my relatives had or have mental health problems. Through their experiences and my own perspective as an ally to them, the lack of appropriate support and education is frankly bewildering. I remember Nick Clegg promising better mental health services when the coalition formed. Look how that one turned out. Don’t be the Lib Dems, Labour.

(As a side-note: it’d be nice if we could stop treating socialism like the plague too. I’d like to say I’m a leftie without getting either the pitying “sit down and shut up, you scrounger” look or the outraged “omg you think Stalin was right” glare. We are entirely too comfortable with the right and with capitalism. Not to be the Trot in the room, Britain, but “bourgeois” just isn’t a good look on you.)

Honestly, I’d love for the Labour Party to reaffirm everything I’ve come to love about it. I’m too young to remember a pre-Blair Labour. I remember writing to Tony Blair, not long before he was succeeded by Gordon Brown, and asking him to save the polar bears. I got a letter back – admittedly it was not personal correspondence from our disgraced former Prime Minister, but it was all very official nonetheless. It’s framed, lost somewhere up in our loft.

It struck me while writing this that a New Labour government, as it was under Blair and Brown, remains the only kind of Labour government I’ve ever known. That makes the flicker of hope in my heart all the more exciting. It started with Corbyn, on that day in September last year. I knew, listening to him and following his work, that this was the politician I’d waited for. The polar bear set-up is quite a good metaphor, actually, for the approach Owen Jones suggested in that fateful blog post. What we’re doing is not enough. We need a new strategy.

The polar ice caps are melting and there’s a good chance they’ll fracture and splinter. We can’t let them split, though, for the sake of the polar bears.

Blair and Brown never saved them. Cameron or May would probably shoot the poor things for sport.

Knock on some doors, Labour, and tell ’em what you’re about. Leave Twitter alone for two seconds. Minimum selfies, please.

And, maybe,  just maybe, you can save those bloody polar bears.


Notes:

* That’s actually a lie; I have two cats and they’re beautiful and flawless. But the rest still stands.

** “We”, she says with utter seriousness, as though she has ever done anything except give a Ukipper a stern and meaningful look in the street.

For more pure unadulterated Owen Jones, from concentrate, you can follow him on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook as @OwenJones84. He has a regular column in the Guardian and a YouTube channel. He is also (surprise, surprise) the author of two bestselling books, Chavs and The Establishment. They will make you angry, but you’ll be happy about the fact that you’re angry. Trust me.

#WhatIReallyReallyWant

Global Goals have produced this AMAZING video, championing activism around the world for¬†the rights of women and girls. Featuring the iconic “girl power” anthem¬†Wannabe¬†by the Spice Girls, it is promoting a campaign to show the United Nations what we really, really want – equality for women. Using the hashtag #whatireallyreallywant, you can help to provide Global Goals with material to present to the UN. You can find out more here.

Why OCG is the real OG

If you haven’t witnessed the spectacular work of Orange Coat Girl, you really should. There isn’t a copy of the video on YouTube, aside from one published on Milo Yiannopoulos’ channel which you can find here. The clip of her starts at 00:09 and ends at 00:39. I hate to give him any more views than he has (because his politics are gross), so you can also¬†access the video on¬†Twitter/Facebook/Instagram.

In the video, Orange Coat Girl, a student of UCLA, has taken down posters which read¬†“Feminism is cancer”, followed by an image of Milo Yiannopoulos’ face. She is carrying the posters, presumably to dispose of them. She is pursued by an aggressive anti-feminist – another student who had previously put these posters up – who yells at her and films the encounter. To her credit, OCG remains totally calm and dignified throughout, despite the other student calling her “cancerous to society”. Honestly, the student filming sounds completely desperate, demanding to know why OCG removed the posters and insisting that OCG nearly assaulted her when she reached past her to take down a poster.

I don’t know the full story; perhaps OCG was more hostile when she initially removed the images. But she was well within her rights to do so, as has been pointed out – material of that nature is against the university’s regulations. OCG herself called the posters “hateful” and “illegally posted”.

As of 3rd June, a clip posted by @itsfeminism on Instagram has been viewed 13, 565 times. Another I saw on Facebook, posted by BRUHH, has been seen 8, 545 times. Orange Coat Girl herself (who you can find on Twitter as @orangecoatgirl) has 9, 393 followers, and it’s still¬†trending. Little gestures of rebellion like this are great. They foster a much better, safer, fairer environment and they clear the path for more activism.

From Orange Coat Girl:

Just goes to show that you have a voice, no matter how small you believe it to be!

ocg

Happy Menstrual Hygiene Day!

Before I start:¬†I’m aware that not everyone who menstruates is a woman, and not every woman menstruates. If I have referred to women menstruating in this article, it is because the statistic or scenario I have mentioned specifies that. I’m sorry if that’s uncomfortable or even triggering to anyone, but I wanted to report this accurately and fairly.

Since 2013, people around the world have begun to celebrate MH Day! Last year, 33 countries ran national campaigns, and the movement is growing. The aim of the event is to promote good menstrual hygiene and to reduce stigma surrounding periods. It focuses on¬†menstrual hygiene management¬†(MHM), which is defined by the World Health Organisation and UNICEF as: “the articulation, awareness, information and confidence to manage menstruation with safety and dignity using safe hygienic materials, together with adequate water and spaces for washing, bathing and disposal with privacy.” UNESCO later added further factors, including “informed and comfortable professionals”, “referral and access to health services”, “positive social norms” and “advocacy and policy”.

It’s a sad fact that globally there’s a severe deficit in terms of¬†access to menstrual products. In a lot of less economically developed countries, girls often have to miss school during their periods because they simply don’t have the materials to manage it. A study by the international development organisation SNV¬†in 2014 found that girls in rural Uganda missed up to 8 days of school every term, amounting to 11% of their school attendance. This, and similar situations in other places, account for the drastic number of girls who drop out of school. I think it’s awful that anyone¬†should have to forfeit their education for something that could be so easily managed. Even in countries like my own (UK), women from low income backgrounds and especially homeless women face the same struggle. There’s no standard practice of distributing menstrual products in food banks and it’s easy to forget just how expensive these products are until you consider the quantity we buy over our lifetime.

Furthermore, in many places menstruation is surrounded by social stigma. We see some evidence of it here: we whisper about it,¬†we invent new and creative ways to describe it without¬†actually saying the word “period”. Goddess forbid a cis man should ever be made to touch even an unused¬†menstrual product! We really shouldn’t fear or dread periods. I’m not saying we should jump for joy when it arrives, but it’s downright silly to demonise a natural process.

I’d like to share the story of one man – yes, a man! – who set out on a journey to improve menstrual hygiene for the women in his local and national community.

Meet India’s Menstruation Man, Muruga:

^ He’s literally my fave. He sacrificed such a lot and worked so hard in order to make life that little bit easier and less painful every month for the women around him, and that’s truly admirable. Thank you, Muruga.

It’s my firm belief that, frankly, menstrual products ought to be as easily available as condoms. You can get condoms for free at any family planning clinic in the UK, as far as I’m aware, and they’re available discreetly and – again! – for free at my college. Condoms are, of course, wonderful things, but everybody who menstruates¬†is guaranteed to¬†require¬†sanitary products throughout their lifetime. They should be free or at least not have an extra tax attached (which is their current status – it’s called the pink tax). Get on it, MPs.

Thank you for reading! Please like and share this to raise awareness! If you write your own post, make a vlog or otherwise celebrate the day, feel free to link it in a comment – I’d love to see it! To find out more, go to this link (for the official website!). I also adore Period Positive on Tumblr – check them out here.