Existing while being a woman: Street harassment

my-name-is-not-hey-babyYou thought I was done my feminist-leaning rants on the struggles of the modern, average, Canadian, young woman (gee, that’s a lot of qualifiers), didn’t you? Alas, I tricked you.

My blog post today was inspired rather abruptly by a truly new experience in street harassment I fell prey to yesterday. I was speaking to the ever lovely Zineb on the phone and I saw a moving shape in my peripherals. This moving shape was none other than an inappropriately gyrating young man pretending to “hump” me from the rear. Truly delightful. I turned around and paused for a second, incredulous that he continued his pelvic thrusting after it had come to my attention. I quickly regained my senses and asked him “do you want to get kicked in the dick?” He began to snicker until I began the first motion of my kick after which he looked shocked and horrified and ran away with his friends. Sadly I did not get the chance to momentarily incapacitate him, my warning gave him a split-second advantage.

First let me remark on the fact that this young man looked generally shocked and alarmed when I nearly kicked him. Here he was making lewd sexual gestures in my direction, uncomfortably close to me, but the thought that I would retaliate was too much for his puny brain to handle. What’s up with that?

I believe his reaction is indicative of a far larger issue. The same all-encompassing issue that leads men to think it’s okay to grab women in public, to yell explicit lines from speeding cars or whisper sexual advances in an unsuspecting woman’s ear.

These actions are indicative of an undeserved but real sense of entitlement that men have towards women’s bodies. That in some screwed up way they have the “right” to make suggestive remarks or comments or physical gestures. To further elaborate, I have been cat-called in the presence of my mother but not my father. I have been cat-called when I am with female platonic friends but not male platonic friends. I have been cat-called while with my little brothers but not with my older (than me) nephew. So what can we infer from this? That men don’t cat-call in the presence of another man because they’re scared? What about the large groups of guys that pass me when I am with one single guy? What about the guys in cars when I’m walking? They have no reason to fear. No I think it’s something different. It’s the idea that when I am with an older male, I am accounted for. My presence in public is sanctioned by this male’s presence. I am “owned” already. Compare this to some cultures from the past (and today) where a woman couldn’t go out in public without a male relative or her husband. It all ties back to ownership. When I am in public alone, there is no sign of an “owner” therefore I am fair game. The rights to my integrity, my body, my identity are up in the air.

Know what all this sense of ownership and entitlement stuff sounds like? Rape culture.

So yes I am emphatically stating that cat-calling is DIRECTLY related to the culture of rape we live in.

******Closing remarks:

Men, bear in mind that sexual harassment is ILLEGAL.

And when I refer to women I’d like to specify that I mean cis, trans, non-identifying, queer, etc. etc. etc. Anybody who is outwardly identifying as female or looks like their outwardly identifying as female and therefore get harassed.

Excellent related articles/websites I’ve stumbled across:

How to talk to a lady without being a CREEP (I feel like a lot of guys should read this one)

25 acceptable responses to street harassment (hysterically funny)

This woman takes pictures of her street harassers 

Hollaback – fighting to end street harassment

Stop street harassment

Another rant about street harassment 

 

Can feminists stop being such jerks to other feminists?

I’m starting to get really fed-up with the greater community of feminists I find myself a part of. The ones who follow feminist websites, make social commentary, speak up about gender inequality, and so much more awesomeness!

As a young woman who considers myself a feminist, it’s hard not to feel encouraged when you realize there is a worldwide community of other women who care about women’s rights, gender roles, gender inequality, and rape culture. I can find all of the discourse on these issues I’ve been missing in my social milieu (the only people I discuss this stuff with are my best friend Zineb, my boyfriend and my dad) right here on the interweb!

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Agree or disagree with the point of this cartoon, makes you think, huh?

Do you know what is incredibly DISCOURAGING? Seeing this worldwide community of feminists constantly criticizing each other for “doing feminism wrong.” My rant today was inspired by this article on Jezebel which really disappointed me. The article in question was chastising Miley Cyrus for declaring that she is “[…] one of the biggest feminists in the world.” Their reason for negating this statement is her apparent use of cultural appropriation (click for a wikipedia definition) in her music videos and media presence. Miley has been receiving a lot of hell lately for “appropriating” black culture with her music, her twerking, and her use of black people in her music videos and stage shows. (Stay tuned for an upcoming post on cultural appropriation.) I can see how you can interpret her actions as cultural appropriation. Okay, fine. But are we really going to call her a bad feminist for that? What does that have to do with feminism? Most importantly, her self -identifying as a feminist.

Miley said about her own brand of feminism: “There’s absolutely no contradiction at all between being a feminist and taking your clothes off and being comfortable about displaying your sexuality.” Miley (even though I don’t particularly like her) does make an important point. Miley seems like she’s all about owning your sexuality and being comfortable with it – something most feminists agree is important. Let’s chill about about denying her way of doing feminism.

Similarly in my own life, I find myself bombarded with ways I’m a “bad feminist” :

I want to get married (click for an article on why that makes me a bad feminist).  I listen to rap music. I dress up in little dresses and wear heels to go clubbing. I wear make-up. If it is financially possible, I want to stay home with my kids for the first few years of their lives.

All of these things have been dubbed by some feminist writer or another BAD things for feminists to do. It’s so tiring. Isn’t feminism an important enough cause that we should want all the help we can get? Or do we really have to leave out a whole host of feminists because they’re “doing it wrong?”

Existing while being a woman: Attempting (and failing) to reconcile my love for Rap music and feminism

If you have read my blog or have know me in real life you are probably aware that I consider myself a feminist.

Something i’ve always struggled with is reconciling my taste in music with my feminist awareness. If you read my previous post on my favourite songs of the last couple years, a lot of them are of the “rap” music variety. Classified further into the “trap music” and “gangster rap” varieties.

If you are not familiar with rap music (if this is the case, how are we acquainted?) then I will let you know that most rap songs aren’t usually prime examples of feminist music. They actually are better classified as some of the most misogynistic music out there. Calling women b*tches and other derogatory terminology, referring to them purely as objects of sexual desire, even the occasional blasé reference to sexual assault. Yep, Rap music is part of the culture of rape that I constantly refer to. And yes by listening to rap music and spending my money on their albums I am in fact complicit in the proliferation of rape culture through music.

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I constantly try to spin it in a way that eases my conscious like: “Jayceon respects women in real life and his love songs are his TRUE feelings.” or “You need to be like that to be popular in the rap industry.” But really it’s undeniable that there are no excuses for listening to and implicitly supporting this kind of music that is so clearly anti-feminist.
So I’m working on supporting more female recording artists, but there is still the whole problem of listening to misogynistic rap music. To be honest, I don’t know what I am going to do about it. Currently I can’t imagine not listening to Chief Keef and the Game. (Sidenote:  I also like rappers such as Black Milk, Slum Village, Lords of the Underground, I think I have well-rounded rap taste.) Right now I will be content on crusading against misogyny in every other area of my life while being slightly hypocritical in this area. Hopefully in the future, this hypocrisy won’t be necessary because rappers will have moved on from being misogynistic a-holes in their music.

Further more, I usually don’t pay much attention to female artists. My best friend Zineb and I were discussing how most of our favourite musical artists are male. So we both have started listening to more female artists. I have discovered my love for female rapper Angel Haze and R&B singer Elle Varner. But I am still on the search for more female artists I can fall in love with. I want to support female recording artists as much as I support their male counterparts.

Until then, the struggle continues.

“Let he who is without sin cast the first stone” – so everyone can take there judgement and calmly shove it up their a**

Inspired by recent events in my social sphere, I would like to write a post about judgement.

I am Anglican (you know the church started by the psycho Henry VIII with all those wives – yeah) and I am very proud of being an Anglican and more importantly a Christian (please ask me if you want the complete story of the beginnings of Anglicanism that aren’t centred around a crazy king.) I have friends of various religions. I’m pretty much a-ok with everything (yes atheists included, I got love for you guys) as long as you don’t insult my beliefs.

I take this attitude into all realms of my life. Do what makes you happy as long as it doesn’t hurt people in the process. Like can’t we be all peace and love and everything guys?

So I have to come right out and say something. I confess, I judge people. There I said it. I’ve been working on it lately (trying to rectify myself) but it’s still a challenge.

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don’t judge me for my overly large eyes (or the fact that I still find this photobooth effect incredibly amusing.)

I’m horrible for judging people on their appearance. Reading amazing articles on body acceptance, fat-shaming and fat-acceptance on xojane has honestly open my eyes to how problematic and pointless judging people on their appearance is.

I also judge people on their intelligence. Being a fairly intelligent (read very intelligent, I’m trying to be humble) and educated person, I find myself sometimes walking around with an air of superiority. I am trying to stop that.

Basically, I recognize that I am not perfect and therefore who am I to judge others?

Ever heard:

It’s like the pot calling the kettle black.

He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.

Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

Yeah the last one is straight from the mouth of JESUS. And even if you aren’t Christians, most popular religions still regard Jesus with a lot of respect. Even if you aren’t religious or don’t believe anything about Jesus, those are some pretty wise words. Let’s remember Jesus was defending an adulterous woman here! John 8:7 for the exact quotation. Yep, Jesus, defender of adulterous women since day one. Sounds nearly like an anti-slut-shaming feminist to me (Jesus does not approve of slut-shaming, guys.) Next time someone of any Christian leanings tries to judge you, just smile and remember that their Jesus has something to say about that. What about Matthew 7:1: “Do not judge or you too will be judged.” ?

Yes this means that those anti-abortion protesters quoting Leviticus all over the street didn’t read the rest of their bible properly (so regardless of whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, don’t judge the other side.) Also, did you know Leviticus forbids wearing blends… cotton/polyester is a no-no, I hope the protesters are wearing 100% cotton. Read Leviticus sometime, it’s a riot.

WHAT ABOUT PAC? “Only God can judge me.”

How much more information do you need to realize that all of you non-perfect people need to chill out with your harsh words of judgement?

So here is my pact: I am going to make a conscious effort not to judge anyone. LET’S ALL MAKE PACTS!!!

Existing while being a woman: What’s wrong with being a girly girl?

As I began to get ready today I had a two-second moment of panic. I could not find my Make Up For Ever HD High Definition Primer. After the brief moment where my heart stopped, I found it under my boyfriend’s hat. I laughed at myself for getting to momentarily worried over primer. Who knows what would happen if I misplaced my foundation. I smirked a bit to myself and mentally called myself “such a girl” as if that was a bad thing. 

BOOM

Post inspiration. 

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I have been super girly all of my life. I only wanted to wear dresses when i was younger and my favourite colour has always been pink (except for grade 3 I think when all I wanted to wear was turquoise, weird year for me.) I get distracted when I see anything glittery, my nails are always done, and I’ve amassed a sizeable make-up collection. As I write this, I am wearing pink polkadot socks with cats on them. For some bizarre reason though, I feel slightly ashamed of my glaring female-ness. As if somehow there is something wrong with being a girly girl. 

Why is this?

I think part of it has to do with identifying as a feminist. I have read countless posts on various fairly feminist websites (xojane, bitchtopia etc.) about the inner struggle women have around wearing make-up whilst being a feminist. It is generally accepted that women’s beauty has been a tool for the repression of women in our society. For anyone who is familiar with The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf (if you aren’t familiar, go read it NOW), she explains this concept quite convincingly. For me to wear make-up and behave according to the societal norm for women’s look, it feels like I’m being complacent with the “beauty myth” (go read the book.)

Another reason I struggle with being a girly girl is because I am told (by society and by peers) that I am too girly. Funny enough, girls who dress more like tomboys are told that they are not girly enough. What is the perfect level of girly-ness? I think I am right in ascertaining that there isn’t one. No matter what, I will be told I am too this or too that. While I am incredibly girly, I will always be told I am too girly. Welcome to being part of the female gender. 

One of the biggest issues I encounter with being more “feminine” (wtf is femininity supposed to look like anyways?) is that people assume I’m less intelligent. Yes I carry a huge purse to school instead of a backpack, and yes my pencil case is pink, no I am not dumb. I do really well in school, I excel at writing essays, and I read historical non-fiction for fun. I will debate with anyone about anything and usually I win using logic, relentlessness, and an aptitude for sounding convincing coupled with whatever information on the subject I have access to. Sadly, people often exclaim they are surprised I am so smart or knowledgeable or whatever.

Join me soon (sorry for sounding like a talk show host) for my next post in this series on sexual assault.