Gender-equality

“Complimenting” Women At Work Is Sexual Harassment

Don’t tell me my dress looks good on me between the hours of nine to five.

What It’s Like Having A Period When You Live On The Streets

“You just feel disgusting and there’s nothing you can do.”

Were The 2018 Oscars The Most Feminist We’ve Seen?

The Oscars and feminism have historically had a rocky relationship. But this year, something shifted…

Say Hello To The Super Cute New ‘Hijarbie’

Damn, this doll knows how to style a headscarf. 

Saudi Women Elected Onto Local Councils For The First Time

“This is a new day. The day of the Saudi woman.”

Feminism Myths Debunked: Why The F-Word Is Not A Crime

“It is really funny how even cool chicks are sort of like: ‘Our mums covered that feminism thing and now we’re living in a post-that world’ when that just isn’t true.” – US actor, author, screenwriter, producer and director Lena Dunham, 29.

I’ve noticed a disturbing trend among younger women I’ve met of late – some of whom are powerful businesswomen in their early 30s – they don’t want to call themselves “feminists”. In fact, the F-word makes them positively aghast and nervous – they don’t understand what feminism is, nor do they care to learn.

RELATED: Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word

Well, I’m here to tell you: feminism is powerful and important and women owe it to themselves and their forebears to educate themselves on what it means and why it’s so vital for both ourselves and future generations.

Now, there are many different forms of feminism and you only have to witness the ugly in-fighting that sometimes occurs on social media between popular feminist leaders in the Australian media to see there’s no “one size fits all category” on what constitutes a feminist. However, most feminists would surely agree that the basis of the movement is as simple as this: “people who believe in equality”.

Do you believe in equal pay for men and women? Do you think women should have equal political, social, sexual and property rights and opportunities to men? Well, sorry to tell you lady: you’re – gasp – a feminist.

That’s right: being a feminist doesn’t equate to humourless, bra-burning anarchists or man-hating satanists – far from it. Look at popular feminist icons of today, the multi-talented, accomplished and gorgeous: Queen Bey aka Beyonce (pictured); actor and UN Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson; US comedians Ellen DeGeneres, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler; US musicians Taylor Swift and Madonna; US fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg; former US first lady and US Secretary of State, now US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton; US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey and US actor/producer/author Lena Dunham.

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

Closer to home, there’s actor Cate Blanchett; former Prime Minister turned author Julia Gillard; journalist, businesswoman, television personality and author Ita Buttrose; author and commentator, Dr Germaine Greer; model-turned-best-selling novelist Tara Moss and former Governor-General of Australia, Dame Quentin Bryce, who’s just released the Not Now Not Ever report, which looks at how soaring rates of domestic violence in Queensland should be tackled.

Still too timid or afraid to call yourself a feminist? Here’s another damn good reason why you should join the movement: In Queensland alone this year, 20 women have died and countless more have suffered violence at the hands of a partner or former partner. In addition, one woman is killed every week in Australia by her partner or former partner and the national figure of domestic violence fatalities currently sits at 62 women.

What’s more, 0ften these murdered women are mothers and at times their children are murdered too. Among this horrifying national statistic were mothers Tara Brown, 24, and Karina Lock, 49, who allegedly died last week at the hands of their ex-partners and Sidney Playford, 6, who was allegedly murdered by her father, Stephen.

Australia’s domestic violence scourge sees many women and children living in constant trauma and fear. It’s real, it’s happening now and – even worse – according to research, domestic and family violence perpetrators are more likely to also commit acts of child sexual assault. Domestic and family violence and child sexual assault are inextricably linked: it’s about an abuse of power and perpetrators maintaining control.

So, you can try to turn a blind eye to the fact that women do not have equal footing in our country, or you can do something about it – and feminism is a bloody good place to start.

Recently, I witnessed an older boy purposefully push my then three-year-old daughter over in his bid to sit on the swing she was on at a public playground. I rushed over in her defence, but there was no need: she’d sprung back up in fury and defended herself very nicely without my help, telling him he had no right to treat her so. And I’m proud of that: I am very consciously trying to raise two strong-willed, brave daughters who will stand up for what they believe in and never let anyone – man or woman – push them around. They deserve equality and respect and to live in safety, just as their male peers do. Have I borne two little proud feminists? God, I hope so.

And my own amazing feminist mother helped steer me in the right director: banning me, as a naive and easily-influenced teen, from joining a cheerleader squad and attending a debutante ball. “No daughter of mine!” said she on both counts, putting me at odds with my peers at a private school. And thank God she did: now, I look back and thank her for it and will repeat this history with my own daughters.

Another proud feminist is the uber talented, smart and beautiful fashion designer Juli Grbac, 36, (pictured) who was the inaugural winner of international TV show Project Runway Australia. Juli, whose recent successes include re-designing Virgin Australia’s crew uniforms in 2010. The glamorous and elegant uniforms were unveiled in 2011, with a catwalk show featuring Elle Macpherson and 60 Virgin Australia crew members. In addition, she’s just finished re-designing Suncorp Bank’s uniforms.

feminism, Beyonce, gender equality

Here, she puts the case for feminism beautifully: “I am all for powerful women, I think now more than ever we have examples of powerful women all over the world today. I was raised by a strong Macedonian woman, mum came to Australia when she was just 21. Within a few years, she was running her own business in the rag-trade. I was brought up to believe that I could do anything that I put my mind to, and with my mum as my mentor, I have picked up where she left off.

“After running my own business for 14 years I wouldn’t have it any other way. In the last few years girl power has become stronger than ever, women are empowering and inspiring one another more than ever before, especially through social media.  Beyonce is the Queen, but at the same time relatable, she is a true example of feminism.

“It doesn’t really surprise me when other young women say they aren’t feminists, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion, however I do feel that more of the younger generation are increasingly becoming feminists.”

Amen to that, I say.

What do you think? Why are some women still reluctant to call themselves feminists?

Image via www.theloop.ca

Helen Mirren: ‘Women Are Still Toddlers In This Modern World’

Helen Mirren has never been one to shy away from controversy, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that she has a remarkably strong opinion on feminism and women’s individuality.

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Speaking to the Daily Mail’s You Magazine, the actress said: “Women are still toddlers in this modern world, trying to find their position in the age of sexual liberation, birth control, education and financial independence.

“We’re still finding our path. And yes, we’re making a lot of mistakes along the way.”

Interestingly, one of the mistakes she referred to was allowing men to sling their arm around our shoulders, which, up until now, was predominantly viewed as an act of affection. “It annoys me when I see men with an arm slung round their girlfriend’s shoulders. It’s like ownership. Of course, when you’re young, you want the guy to take your hand and look after you.

“But when I see girls being leaned on, I want to say, ‘Tell him to get his damned arm off your shoulder.’”

This, she said, was a characteristic of our age, wherein women presumably still look to their male partner as the protector and/or the bread winner. Arguably, it’s clear that we’ve made positive progress towards closing the gap between genders over the last decade, however Mirrin makes a fair point in saying that we’re still navigating our way, because we are.

Only in recent years has the feminist movement really started to catch on and quite frankly, it’s only as people keep publicly addressing the issue that we’re reminded to have a voice and take action. Sadly, complacency can be far more appealing than conflict.

So what’s a girl to do? “At 70 years old, if I could give my younger self one piece of advice, it would be to use the words “f*** off” much more frequently,” said the actress. She also insisted in the interview that we need to take responsibility for what emerges from the film industry and magazines.

Referring to breaking out of traditional female roles like the housewife, girlfriend or victim, Mirren advised: “When women complain about the paucity of roles for older women, I say put your energies into changing the way we view each other in real life – then the rest will follow.”

Image via Mirror.co.uk

Say What?! US Open Women’s Final Sold Out Before Mens

The US Open has long been the most flamboyant of the four grand slams. Held in New York; the city lives up to its reputation of endowing whatever it touches with a sense of “there’s a first time for everything!” This year, in tennis terms, is no exception…the sky high screenings in Times Square of Rafael Nadal casually flaunting his Tommy Hilfigers is testament to that. However, another notable first this year is that the women’s final has sold out before the men’s.

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According to the organisers, this has never happened before in the history of the tournament. Ever. So why this year? The advertising has been no different. The crowd has the same interests, or do they? Alongside the Federers, Nadals, and Djokovics of the tennis world, one player has a more interesting story than anyone. A female player. I’m talking about America’s Serena Williams, who is aiming for the first Calendar Slam achieved by a woman since 1988.

To nail a Calendar Slam, a player must win all four grand slams in a calendar year; The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open. Serena already has the first three; to win the fourth on home soil is beyond making history. But this fascination with her is unusual. Plenty of records have been smashed by extraordinary female sports stars/teams, and nobody cares or even knows about it. I mean, the Australian Diamonds netball team just won the World Championships and the media was covering Nick Kyrgios’ sledging of Stan Wawrinka.

And it’s not just netball. The Southern Stars women’s cricket team just regained the Ashes, yet only 7 per cent of sports programming in Australia covers women’s sports. And as for the pay gap, it stinks. At the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, the men competed for at least $3.975 million. Two years ago, when female cricketers played their most recent World Cup in India, the $75,000 winnings paled in comparison. There is a similar disparity in many sports including surfing, soccer and golf.

Which brings us back to tennis, one of the only high profile sports to have equal pay for both men and women. There is some contention about this. At grand slams, women play best of three sets, and the men play best of five. Women will spend about two hours on court per match, and men will play for four, five, sometimes six hours. In other smaller tournaments, all players play best of three.

The disparity in court time means a disparity in TV air time; less advertising, sponsorship exposure, and ratings. It is perfectly understandable and logical to argue that for grand slam tournaments, men receive more prize money than the women. Until seven years ago, when Wimbledon joined the pack of equal pay, that was the case.

So why the lack of pay gap in tennis? If you consider the gender equivalent training, travel, physio, press, injuries, jet lag, pain, and self-discipline athletes put themselves through, it’s entirely justified that the pay is the same. Women in all sports undergo the same physical and mental struggle as men, coupled with the constant battle to be relevant in a boys club. Yet the vast majority of sportswomen are not properly acknowledged for their colossal efforts.

There are other female sporting role models out there like Serena Williams; we just don’t hear about them. I’m not sure if women in sport will ever receive the same appreciation, at least not in the near future. However, if we make an effort to watch women’s sport on TV/in person (we should; it’s actually fabulous), talk about it on social media and generally push an interest, we may close the gap sooner than we think.

Rafael Nadal, Tommy Hilfiger And That Underwear Campaign

With the US Open just around the corner, the world’s tennis elite have flocked to New York City to for the final grand slam of the year. However, amidst the frantic last-minute training sessions and nervous pre-tournament press conferences, one tennista is attracting more attention than the others. Former world number 1, Rafael Nadal, has recently been announced as the brand ambassador for Tommy Hilfiger, and the promotion has been a little…interesting.

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Although Rafa promotes the snappy suits and the new Tommy Hilfiger Bold fragrance, the focus is (of course) on the underwear range. When visualising sports stars and their generic underwear campaigns, the mind goes straight to the likes of David Beckham. He’s usually photographed in black and white, posing semi-seductively, face and body shrouded in shadow. The photos, while somewhat sexualised, do not come close to the almost pornographic imagery of female swimsuit and lingerie models. Don’t even start on the objectification of actresses when they promote anything and everything; right down to the last tube of foundation.

However, Tommy Hilfiger has well and truly flipped this sexist double standard on its head. This particular underwear promotion involves a three pronged attack. Firstly; the photo-shoot. It’s done in mostly bold colour, it’s very suggestive, and has a keen focus on Rafa’s extraordinary legs and booty, rather than the more conventional abs/biceps shot (although they certainly get a look in!).

nadal-shirtless

Curious yet? It gets even more fascinating. The second prong was featured yesterday in Bryant Park; a promo event with a twist. Rafa and a number of Hilfiger models (both male and female) took to a red, white, and blue court (Tommy Hilfiger’s signature colours) to play a game of strip-tennis. The rules were simple (and obvious); lose a point…lose an item of clothing. The idea was to eventually reveal the entirety of the Tommy Hilfiger range, bit by tantalising bit. Although Rafa fared better than the models, he lost the jacket, shirt, and tie of his new elastic suit; just enough to keep the fans happy, but still leaving something to the imagination.

Finally, the third tier that has everybody talking. Earlier this week, Tommy Hilfiger released a 30 second TV commercial featuring Rafa, his undies, and a locker room. It can only be described as a striptease worthy of Gypsy Rose Lee. Slowly, Rafa pulls off his shirt, jeans, and eventually his underwear, tosses his briefs at the camera, and saunters out of the room wearing nothing but a thin white towel. Just before he uncovers ‘everything’, the camera cuts to his face. He throws us a truly smouldering look, shakes his head, and turns away. That shake of the head must have broken a million hearts. What a tease.

Although this commercial is clearly a health hazard because it induces breathlessness and chronic fits of the giggles, it shines a new and surprisingly feminist light on the industry of underwear. Rather than the coy, casual imagery of every other undies campaign, Rafael Nadal, in all his Spanish glory, is teased, stripped, and objectified at the very same standard that women are held to.

There is nothing macho about it; no attempt to preserve the reserved/uptight masculine sexuality we are so used to. This is Rafa plus underwear plus raw sex appeal. As Glee star Jane Lynch put it, while hosting the strip-tennis match, it is “reverse sexism”.

But wait; there’s more! In addition, to showing off Rafa’s body in the same way a woman’s would be, Tommy Hilfiger has also moved a step closer to eliminating the standard of hetero-normativity in advertising. Obviously, the ad is aimed at straight men; they all (hopefully) wear undies. However, the overtly sexualised aspect; the portrayal of a male wearing very little clothing is clearly not aimed at women…they don’t wear men’s Tommy Hilfiger briefs (although some of them might after seeing the commercial).

If the global standard of heterosexuality were observed, Rafa would be in the usual Beckham-esque pouty poses. However, the seductive music accompanying the exposure of Rafa’s stunning body plus the steamy glance at the camera is also aimed at homosexual men. Rather than ignoring gay sexuality, this commercial takes it by the horns and uses it as an advertising tool. It’s the same as using women’s sexualised bodies to lure straight men into buying pretty much any product.

Maybe Tommy Hilfiger has dared to be so raunchy because of the European thing; the Spanish are, after all, a bit more comfortable with sexuality than North Americans and Australians. Maybe he subverted the idea of male sexualisation in this way simply to grab our attention. Hey; maybe it was Rafa’s idea. Either way, with or without realising it, Hilfiger has made quite possibly some of the most heartening progress in terms of eliminating the screaming double standard in male vs. female sexualisation. It even has its own hashtag; #tommyxnadal. So thank you, Tommy, for this (quite honestly) ground-breaking campaign. You and Rafa have given us all hope. And speaking of Rafa; it’s fairly certain that his support for the US Open has exploded spectacularly. Let’s hope he wins. As they say in Spain; vamos!

Images via Ilovefashionnews.nl and Mallorcaadiario.com

Hollywood Heroine: What Women Want To See On Screen

There has been a lot of talk recently about the glaringly obvious differences between male and female protagonists in Hollywood films, made even more obvious by the distinct lack of female protagonists. All films nominated for Best Picture at this year’s Academy Awards had a male main character. Not just any character either; they were heavy, quirky, complex, unique, context laden roles ranging from the beautifully historical (Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing in The Imitation Game) to the downright bizarre (Michael Keaton as Riggan Thompson in Birdman).

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However, the fabulously talented women nominated for Best Actress had to be content with the serviceable but archetypical wife/mother/girlfriend/sexy murderess roles that seem to flood modern screenplay. In addition to this, the majority of supporting roles in all film and television are male, and are (again) many and varied in terms of age, shape and size, ethnicity, etc. Women are relegated to the ditzy college student, the ingénue, the pretty, late 20’s lawyer-type and the wise but cranky older lady. There is very little in between.

Hollywood has always been a bit of a boy’s club (hence the lack of female directors/producers), but the absence of the truly female story indicates that this is becoming more, not less, prevalent. The lives and thoughts of women are constantly revealed through a male lens. Whether the world of Hollywood realises it or not, the female experience is secondary to the tales of men. This is a terrible shame, because aside from the obvious gender (and therefore employment) inequality, women are really, REALLY interesting. Why wouldn’t viewers want to see a story filled with wonderful women? We’ve got our own way of thinking and our own unique yarns to spin.

This week, I had a long think about the issue and decided to ask a few of my female friends and colleagues what they specifically would like to see in a Hollywood heroine. What character traits would appeal to them and what do they relate to? Here, in a nutshell, is what women want to see on the big screen.

Katherine

Heroine’s age: I guess anywhere between 20-35, mostly I think I like to watch characters around my own age so I can relate to them better.

Sexuality: Straight

Special skills/superpowers if any: Well I would love for my perfect heroine to be able to defend herself – so have a good knowledge of self-defence skills – maybe some cool Game of Thrones style fighting skills.

Ethnicity: Purely because I want to relate myself to this heroine; Caucasian.

Five words to describe her personality: Kind, loyal, quick-witted, generally intelligent (interested in the world around her), confident.

Financial status: Middle class – working towards making some of her own money – paying for things herself not having her rich kinky boyfriend called Christian Grey do everything for her.

Traditional name or original name (e.g. Elizabeth vs Meadow): Always for the original name. I like names that are different to everyone else.

Country of origin: I honestly don’t have much of a preference. It doesn’t bother me.

Bookish and reclusive or outdoorsy and outgoing: I think watching a character who is more bookish and reclusive learn to be more outdoorsy and outgoing would be great, possibly seeing someone who is quite shy coming into themselves and finding a healthy balance between the two.

General Thoughts: I think my perfect Hollywood heroine would have flaws. I don’t want to see someone absolutely perfect on screen and start to compare the inadequacies to myself, especially as I am a real life person; not a perfect, well rounded fictional character.

In terms of qualities in a perfect heroine though, I think I would like to see someone who is generally kind [and] always means well. Maturity that suits the age of the character (I hate nothing more than when the main character – who is an adult – starts to behave like a young teenager over something like a boy).

A lot of Hollywood is about romantic love/relationships. One of my favourite TV shows is Friends, because of the strong bond between those characters that really forms their own little family. I think the perfect heroine in Hollywood would have at least one good friend who she has a strong bond with and won’t discard once something/someone better comes along.

She should be witty; able to hold her own in a conversation, a bit like an Elizabeth Bennett against Mr Darcy!

Annie

Heroine’s age: 37

Sexuality: Maybe a lesbian, but it shouldn’t be the main thing. Like, she should just happen to go home and have dinner with her wife. Or husband. Gay or straight; it shouldn’t be what the movie is about.

Special skills/superpowers (if any): Sailing…and amazing chin-ups. Basically Sarah Connor.

Ethnicity: A real mix. A bit of everything, but not blonde with blue eyes. I had this teacher at school who taught me Latin and she was so beautiful. She had some Egyptian in her I think?

Five words to describe her personality: Capable, gritty, confident (like, Rebel Wilson confident), varied, adventurous.

Financial status: Has some money, but works hard for it (as in, if she’s super rich she should be a top investment banker; no mysterious money please).

Traditional name or original name: I’m a sucker for old names. Elizabeth, Jane, Mary, Kitty, Lydia…

Country of origin: Oooh… Australia! No, maybe Iran?

Bookish and reclusive or outdoorsy and outgoing: Outdoorsy. I’m so sick of the classic Hollywood girl who sits around designing or reading or writing or some other non-intrusive occupation all day and then a MAN has to come and bring her out into the world. Blah blah.

General thoughts: You didn’t ask about physical shape and size! I’d love someone who’s just normal looking, like a strong body that is beautiful but in a Sarah Connor/Jennifer Ehle from Pride and Prejudice/Emma Thompson. Like, not super sexualised. I miss the days when a woman like Julie Andrews was considered a star. I never saw a hint of boob or even a knee. Not that you SHOULDN’T show your boobs or legs or any of it, but it shouldn’t be why she’s cast.

Fiona

Heroine’s age: 25

Sexuality: Straight

Special skills/superpowers: Super strength. Mind reading.

Ethnicity: Hmm. Any really! There’s an appeal to all.

Five words to describe her personality: Strong, funny, empathetic, determined, just.

Financial status: Middle class.

Traditional name or original name: Original name.

Country of origin: Again, there’s an appeal to any!

Bookish and reclusive or outdoorsy and outgoing: Book smart but fit. Perhaps was neither of these things and worked hard at both.

General thoughts: I just find an appeal to someone incredibly average doing extraordinary things and a woman being powerful without the end goal being a man.

Eloise

Heroine’s age: 20

Sexuality: Straight

Ethnicity: Caucasian

Five words to describe her personality: Feminine, witty, clever, dreamer, romantic.

Financial status: Lower-middle class.

Traditional name or original name: Traditional name.

Country of origin: America

Bookish and reclusive or outdoorsy and outgoing: Outdoorsy

General thoughts: Confident but not 100 per cent sure of herself. She’d be in fine form but with curves!

Emma

Heroine’s age: Not too young. I think you want a woman who you can tell has experiences under her belt and is confident enough in herself to look the world in the face.

Sexuality: I don’t think in any way this should be a focus of a film and as such I don’t have a real preference for sexual orientation. However, I have often found that some of the women most accessible while still being confident and strong don’t necessarily place a label on their sexuality but are open to just accepting their love for whoever they find themselves in love with at the time (regardless of their partner’s biological sex).

Special skills/superpowers: I love intelligent characters who you can tell are bountiful in wisdom and don’t flaunt this over others but are patient , kind and understanding while still being strong enough to stand up for their opinions, those they love and themselves. These may not seem like extraordinary traits but too often in films women must be either intelligent OR loving OR strong. When she is able to have several of these traits rolled into one, that is when she is given the depth and complexity that a main character should have, and in a way, I see this as a superpower in its own right. I also love a bit of kick ass skills, witty banter, sass etc and an athletic protagonist.

Ethnicity: I wouldn’t have any problem with a Caucasian protagonist, especially because they are most likely to be relatable to my own circumstances. However Latino, African, African American, British African, Spanish, Mediterranean, Egyptian, any ethnicity really would be really cool to see. To have a non-Caucasian woman in a leading role that women can be proud of would be awesome because it reaches out to everyone in a completely different way eg. Lupita Nyong’o or Zoe Saldana would both be incredible.

Five words to describe her personality: Quirky, witty, confident, loving, multifaceted.

Financial status: Doesn’t matter as long as they work hard for their money. A character who works hard for what they have is more accessible for audiences because we get to see a bit of our daily struggles in that character. And if they can be strong, in both the good and bad times, working towards a worthy goal then why not us too?

Traditional name or original name: I absolutely love traditional names and they would be my first choice for any character I write about, but I think the name has to match the character’s attributes (if they’re quirky or stern etc.) and ethnicity of the character. I feel that if a character of a particular ethnic background is the lead then why not give them a name (and indeed experience in the film) that reflects their unique cultural heritage.

Country of origin: No preference.

Bookish and reclusive or outdoorsy and outgoing: I love a character that is intelligent and has a deep respect for learning but why should this mean they can’t also have a love for the outdoors and a deep-seeded belief in themselves that makes them strong and outgoing?

General thoughts: A woman who doesn’t have to be a sex symbol in every seen, who doesn’t have to look like a model. To see a female protagonist’s beauty come from her strength, intelligence, moments of doubt, protectiveness, sense of self-worth is a far greater beauty than looks alone and speaks volumes to audiences. Come on, Hollywood; listen up!

Image via Izismile.com

He’s A Stud, She’s A Skank: The Double Standard Of Slut Shaming

I don’t like the term “slut”. I first encountered it in my early days at an all-girls high school. None of us knew what it meant, so we threw it around as the most casual of insults. That is, until the older girls got wind of it and told us never ever to call a girl that because it was the WORST POSSIBLE THING you could say. “Why? What does it mean?” we asked. The hurried reply was, “It means a girl who has sex with heaps of guys and that’s something you really shouldn’t do, okay?”

There it was – the first time we experienced the phobia of female sexuality. Suddenly, every interaction with a member of the opposite sex was scrutinised. Giggling with a boy on the train? Slut. Kissed more than one guy at the school dance? Whore. Lost your virginity? Skank. The reverse was true as well; if you didn’t talk to boys, wouldn’t kiss anyone, and weren’t sexually active, then you were a frigid prude. You couldn’t win, and you couldn’t say anything about it.

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This paranoia was reinforced by mufti day dress codes; no spaghetti straps, no skirts above the knee, no hipster jeans, etc. It was these laws of appropriate dress that got me wondering. Why were we being forced to cover up? Being a precocious girl, I asked one of the teachers, and expected her to talk about wearing comfortable clothes for learning. Instead, her response (I kid you not) was, “Because we have male teachers at this school, and we need to be considerate of them.”

What the actual what?! How was that fair? And why did she have so little faith in male teachers?! Besides, the local boys schools didn’t have those dress rules. They also didn’t scold each other if one of them went to second base with a girl at so-and-so’s 16th birthday. On the contrary… they CONGRATULATED each other. So why was being a girl so different?

Right from the outset, women are conditioned to be ashamed of their sexuality. We come up against this every day, and not just because of our sex lives. This phobia inhibits our behaviour and the way we interact.

Here’s an example. When I am in a social situation with both men and women, one of the less inhibited men will make a few witty comments loaded with sexual innuendo. The whole group will laugh, happily joke with him, and move onto the next topic. HOWEVER…being fairly uninhibited myself, I will usually make a similar comment a few minutes later. Same context, same tone, same situation (and usually funnier). The reaction is always terrifyingly different. The group will stop, look around nervously, and inevitably say three things:

  1. “Ooh, you’re terrible!”
  2. “I can’t believe you said that!”
  3. “Well, someone’s sexually frustrated…”

There it is again! We now have a triple standard. Not only are women unable to have sex without being shamed, we also can’t even talk about it. It’s not normalised; you’re either terrible, unbelievable, or (my least favourite) sexually frustrated for bringing it up. And sadly, it’s women who do most of the shaming. Who can blame us? Being embarrassed by our own desires has become second nature.

Ladies, it is time to stop punishing each other. If you want to sleep with 10 guys this week, you go ahead and do it (just remember, use a condom). If you only have one guy you want to sleep with, feel free to do that too. Above all else, it’s time to stop using the word “slut”… I can think of more interesting four letter words.

Image via Dailyurbanista.com

How Your Uber Ride Is Helping Women Worldwide

Your cab ride home can now make a difference.

Ride-sharing app Uber has announced they are teaming up with UN Women to transform the male-dominated driver industry for good.

Uber has pledged to create one million jobs for women by 2020, and make more women feel comfortable to get behind the wheel.

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Uber’s communications lead Katie Curran told SHESAID the partnership just made sense. “We’re doing this because we share UN Women’s vision of equality and women’s empowerment,” she said. “The Uber platform makes so much sense as a way to help accomplish this mission.”

While the taxi industry has received criticism for being uninviting to women, Curran says their ride-sharing app is the perfect option for anyone looking for flexible working hours and conditions, be it a working mum or part-time student.

“Over the next five years, we will create one million safe, flexible and equitable earning opportunities for women,” Ms Curran said.

Uber driver Amy says customers are often surprised when she picks them up, but that she doesn’t feel uncomfortable as a female driver. “You don’t pick people up from the street – it’s all logged through the app so they [Uber] know who is in your car,” she told SHESAID.

“The only time I feel uncomfortable is when people sit in the front and don’t talk!”

The move isn’t just a publicity stunt. Ms Curran points out that employing more women is a shrewd business move.

“The International Labour Organization at the UN estimates that 48 per cent of the global productive potential of women remains unutilised – twice as high as the rate among men,” she explains. “This partnership is aimed at helping close that gap.”

The announcement to partner with UN Women comes as Uber tries to gather voter support to loosen government regulations on ride sharing laws in the upcoming Australian state elections.

Whether the rules are loosened or not, Uber is proving to be a game changer that has power well beyond the tech arena. And if our cab ride home helps to economically empower just one women, that’s a ride we’re happy to take.

Image via Good Worldwide Inc

New Study Reveals More Johns Are CEOs Than Women

Just when you thought we were making progress in the fight for gender equality a new report has been released that revealed there are fewer women CEOs in the workforce than CEOs named John. That’s right, more men named John run companies than women altogether!

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The US study conducted by Ernst and Young says: “Only 16 per cent of S&P 1500 board seats are held by women – less than the proportion of seats held by directors named John, Robert, James and William.”

This means that for every women on the board, there are four Johns, Roberts, James’ and Williams’. That’s not even including blokes with a different name. Furthermore, the study also went on to reveal that the proportion of women on boards has increased by “only 5 percentage point over the last 10 years.”

And while it’s still positive that the number has actually increased, Ernst and Young revealed that the companies had grown in size, raising the question as to whether “boards are holistically refreshing or simply adding more directors?”

So does this mean that the gender gap isn’t closing like we’re led to believe and findings are actually based on larger board sizes?

“In general, more women are being appointed to board and executive leadership positions though change continues to be gradual,” according to the study.

They say slow and steady wins the race, but if this study is anything to go by it appears the race is dominated by males. So let me ask you: Should we be stepping outside our comfort zones and pushing even harder for more female contenders, or is the corporate hierarchy just more appealing to men?

Why Feminism Is Not A Dirty Word

Wikipedia: Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.

The Macquarie Concise Dictionary: feminism n. advocacy of equal rights and opportunities for women, especially the extension of their activities in social and political life.

Whenever I hear a woman, young or old, declare they are most definitely not a feminist, with the same distaste as if you’d just called them a serial killer, I feel white, hot rage. Why aren’t you a feminist?

For feminism is most definitely not a dirty word. It does not mean – see definitions above – that you hate men, or the institution of marriage, or you have lesbian leanings (not that there’s anything wrong with that), or you’re a bra-burning, angry and unattractive freak or any of the other wildly ridiculous, grossly untrue and negative meanings associated with the term.

Feminism is not an ugly label. I am proud to call myself one.

When I hear women balk at being called a feminist, I want to rage at them: “Do you believe in equality? Do you believe in equal rights and equal pay for men and women?!” If you answered, yes, that makes you a feminist, sweetheart.

As British journalist/author and comedian Caitlin Moran once quipped: “Do you have a vagina? And do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations – you’re a feminist!”

I feel particularly sad and disappointed when I hear a young woman in her 20s say feminism means nothing to her or that she “doesn’t need feminism”. I’m sorry, what?!

I want to admonish them with: Are you OK with the ever-growing gender pay gap? Why aren’t you alarmed that Australian women are earning less (in relation to men) today than ever before, with the gender pay gap soaring above 18 per cent, to reach a record high of 18.2 per cent? Do you think it’s OK for women to still be seen as inferior? And judged solely by their appearance? Have you ever worked in a male-dominated industry, as I have, and been bullied when pregnant?

Then there’s the unequal distribution of household labour to consider, anti-feminists: a new study suggests that men and women could be doing an equal share of the housework – drum roll – by 2050?! How is this OK?

And, there’s the ugly issue of the high incidence of sexual violence against women and children and domestic violence in Australia, whereby women are routinely murdered by current or former partners. Still think you don’t need feminism?!

And while I concede that old-school feminists like Dr Germaine Greer – a major feminist voice of the mid-20th century and the author of groundbreaking book, The Female Eunuch – can be a little, well, batshit crazy at times, it’s completely ridiculous to write off the whole feminist movement lest you be associated with her.

Last year, I found Greer’s comments on ex-PM Julia Gillard to be completely abhorrent and disappointing to say the least. Dr Greer, as a guest on the ABC’s Q and A program derided Gillard’s wardrobe, and said: “You’ve got a big arse, Julia, just get on with it.”

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

But hope is very much on the horizon for there’s a whole new breed of young women, who are positive role models for females, young and old, who proudly – gasp – call themselves feminists. If you’re scared of identifying yourself as a feminist, think again. If super-successful, talented and gorgeous young women like singer Beyonce (main picture) and actor Emma Watson (pictured above) can proudly stand up for feminism, and declare women are equal to men in front of international audiences, then there’s no reason why you can’t too.

I was particularly chuffed to read of Harry Potter star Watson’s first big speech as a newly appointed United Nations Women’s Goodwill Ambassador. Emulating her brave, heroic and strong Harry Potter character, Hermione (pictured below), Watson, 24, launched the UN’s HeForShe gender equality campaign in NY last Sunday, calling on men to stand up for women’s rights and equality too.

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

She said: I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realised that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating.
“If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop. Feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.”

Bravo! And amen, sister.

What do you think?

feminism, Emma Watson, Beyonce, gender pay gap

Main image of Beyonce via www.thebackofmyhead.com, Emma Watson image via www.cosmopolitan.com.au, Hermione image via www.ign.com and feminism cartoon via dancingdrafts.wordpress.com

What You Can Learn From Emma Watson’s UN Speech

Earlier this year, Emma Watson was made a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and yesterday she launched the “HeForShe” campaign, extending a formal invitation to men and boys to get onboard the movement toward gender equality.

In her speech to the United Nations, Watson called for an end to the idea that feminism is synonymous with man-hating.

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“I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word. Women are choosing not to identify as feminist. Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and, unattractive,” Watson considered.

“I am from Britain and think it is right that as a woman I am paid the same as my male counterparts. I think it is right that I should be able to make decisions about my own body. I think it is right that women be involved on my behalf in the policies and decision making that affect my life. I think it is right that socially I am afforded the same respect as men. But sadly I can say that there is no one country in the world where all women can expect to receive these rights.”

Watson’s speech serves as a reminder, not only of her continuing awesomeness, but that feminism is not a dirty word that denotes a belief that women are better than men. She reminds us that gender equality is not about women versus men. Gender equality involves everyone.

She states that the ideas associated with traditional masculinity – as those with femininity – are extremely disabling. That, due to ideas of what constitutes a “man”, men also suffer at the hands of a society infected with gender-based discriminations.

Watson explains that the current notion of gender needs to be overhauled, for the sake of men and women:

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum instead two opposing sets of ideals. If we stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by what we just are – we can all be freer and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom.”

I hope we can all consider our position and what we can do to help our communities move away from gender biases and discrimination, and remind each other that we are worthy of equal treatment in the home, in the media, on the streets and in the workplace.

Read a full transcript of Emma Watson’s speech here, and visit the HeForShe website for more info.

Image via Hollywood Life.

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