Some of us are more equal than others…still

I’ve been becoming more and more agitated by everyday sexism recently. It has been subtly creeping in to my day to day life like the crass joke an acquaintance shared recently on Facebook. The joke goes like this: A woman confronts her husband with a knife. Rather than running away in fear he produces a loaf of bread and some butter and his wife’s ‘instinct’ kicks in prompting her to make him a sandwich. Hilarious.

Then I watched a documentary on Female Genital Mutilation because, you know, our vaginas are so dangerous they need to be cut out and the remaining flesh sewn tight together, erasing any trace of our womanhood. Horrifically, this actually happens right here in the UK, not just in far away lands. Thinly veiled as the preservation of cultural identity it is in fact child abuse leaving a legacy of severe physical and emotional damage that will haunt the victim for the rest of their life. If it horrifies you – and it should – please add your name to this petition now.

Women hating is becoming cheekier by the day, its perpetrators even marketing themselves as our pals. One such example is a new television advert from ‘feminine hygiene’ brand Vagisil. Even the name sounds like an STI: I’m afraid you’ve contracted Vagisil, my dear. You’ll need some antibiotics and a cream to clear that up and, of course, you’ll need to let any partners know you have it. It thoughtfully advises us poor, stinking women that help is now at hand for it – and it alone – can help us mask our putrid natural scent for a small fee. Thank goodness for that, I can sleep easy now Vagisil is on the case! One of my favourite writers, Caroline Criado-Perez, wrote a great article in response to the new advert, you can read it here.

And of course we can’t forget the hundreds of girls all over the UK who ‘ask for it’ when they are raped. I’ve never really understood that one. Regardless of what I’m wearing if I want ‘it’ believe me, you’ll know about it. And if I don’t want ‘it’ you’ll know about that too.

Attacks on women by other women is a particular pet peeve of mine and one at which Katie Hopkins of The Apprentice ‘fame’ excels. When she’s not poking fun at the weight of female X Factor contestants via big, brave, social networking site Twitter she’s explaining just how much better than us she is on her now regular daytime TV slot on This Morning.

But all hope is not lost! Not yet anyway. Often when women address woman hating we are met with impatient sighs and knowing glances with that familiar ‘here we go again’ attitude. Not wanting to come across as a whiny woman – urgh, they’re the pits, aren’t they? Always whinging for equal rights? Why don’t they just pipe down? – I’ll leave you with a great piece of writing from the team that brings us the hit US TV programme, Scandal. It pretty eloquently addresses a lot of issues facing women in the public eye and certainly gives us food for thought. But not too much. You know how we women like to watch our weight.

The new face of bravery

IMG_20131023_121909

I’ve been scratching my head a lot today wondering what I was going to write for day 2 of my self-imposed blog challenge. It’s bad news when you’re stumped and you’re only a few hops from the starting blocks. I scanned my Facebook and Twitter feeds for a bit of inspiration to get my creative juices flowing. I met up with a friend and put the world to rights over a cuppa but still nothing got me going. One last log in to Facebook and there it was. Another Upworthy video. I clicked on it anyway.

I encounter this website on an almost daily basis when I log in to my various social media accounts. There it is on my newsfeeds in between pictures of what my friends did at the weekend, what their children ate for lunch and the daily countdown until they can leave the office and head home to their loved ones. I never really paid all that much attention to it before but something told me to click on the link anyway today so I did.

It took me to a video of an American war veteran who had been having a pretty dreadful time of things. A hairdresser gave him a haircut and trimmed his beard and a man gave him a suit to wear. It sounds really superficial and daft but the premise was to make him see himself differently and change how others saw him. It was interesting enough to make me click on a few other videos to see what all the fuss was about this website.

I clicked and I cried and I clicked some more. I laughed. I came across one of the site’s contributors, a man named Joseph Lamour. You can find his page on the site here.

As I watched video after video I began to ask questions, of myself and the world of which I am part. The content of the videos was brave. It dealt with sensitive subject matters like casual racism, homophobia and everyday sexism but it did so through humour. No shouting and screaming or waving placards in your face. It struck me that the site and its contributors have really hit home on something very important. Our generation responds to humour. We use it to break the ice; we use it to disarm. It can help us have honest, frank conversations about real issues affecting our society and how we can make a positive change to the way we live.

I realised that bravery isn’t a warrior on a white horse. It’s having the courage to speak up with only your words in your armoury. To step away from the pack and do your own thing, even if it leads you to unchartered territory. To challenge societal norms and demand a better way of living, for everyone. After all, great discoveries were never made by following the herd.