What is sexism?

Content Warning: some of the links in this post contain articles on underage marriage and such stories on (inevitably) rape may trigger survivors. 

Apparently asking asking women to smile is “sexualisation”. Still can’t understand what makes it ‘sexist’. Commenting on a woman’s “charm” has also been condemned as sexist by the Radio National (RN), on the ABC. The spike of number of child brides in Australia?

*Tweet, tweet, tweet, tweet*. To be fair the ABC has published a few  on – line articles and radio transcripts, such as herehere and here. It’s still a pity that I have to use Google to find any evidence though.

 

People don’t like the Murdoch media (Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, etc). I get it. But let’s give credit it where it’s due. None of the mainstream media, at least what I’ve seen, a part from the “Daily Telegraph” and a few other media outlets, commented on the worrying increase of children as young as nine being sent overseas to be “married’, i.e. raped, often by much older men. According to current Australian Federal Police statistics, the number of children taken overseas by parents to be subjected to this is 73. I wrote about it here. I argued that there needs to be much more done when it comes to abuse of children – that’s including dealing with cultures that seem to normalise child rape – at least in cultures where it’s widely practised.

 

Women have every right to speak up about behaviour that they find uncomfortable. Men should adhere to cues that women are giving on whether their conduct makes them feel OK. To me, that’s personal autonomy – something that everybody regardless of gender should be free to exercise. And others should always respect the boundaries of the ohter person, including in a professional or platonic context.

But how can something like  what looks like a compliment cause such a storm when the media on the whole is very quiet about children as young as nine being raped by much older men? That is ridiculous. It’s wrong! It’s why feminism continuously gets a bad name! Enough’s enough. We need to stop attacking those who mean no harm and start condemning those who do! There should always be mores that are used to protect the vulnerable, including children, regardless of cultural background. Anything less should not be tolerated.

And let’s stop screaming and calling everything sexist! It doesn’t do anyone any favours. Neither does falsely calling people sexist – including someone who you don’t like or strongly disagree with on ideological grounds. Can we, those who call ourselves feminists – and even those who reject the label but agree with the underlying principles of gender equality, autonomy, etc, use our voices usefully and call out atrocities against women whenever they occur? There are good cause for feminism in the world, but so – called feminists seem to constantly miss the mark.

 

What do you think? Do you label yourself a feminist? Why or why not?

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Body positive movement: what is it and what isn’t it?

I don’t often write about body positivity on any of my blogs. Nor do I associate with any of that sort of “community”, in real life, social media, etc. I found this video via Everyday Feminism. A lot of YouTube users seem to disagree or not like what she’s saying. Check it out.

Note: there is swearing in it.

 

I think she may  have some points. But yet, she says you can’t “be on Weight Watchers and be body positive”. Apart from that, she does make some OK points (I think), like being inclusive of men and trans and gender diverse people. She goes on to talk about how people in the body positive movement shouldn’t judge someone on how much or little sex they have. Exactly what that’s got to do with body positive movement, I’m not sure. Is that often talked about in body positive spheres (blogs, social media, etc? I though it’d be more about size, dieting – or lack of, etc).

 

So, what do you think? I’d like to particularly hear from those who are active in the body positive movement.

Child brides in Australia and the broader issue of sexual abuse

Trigger warning: child sexual abuse. Please proceed with caution if this is triggering for you. 

Yes, you read that right. According to Peter Kurti of Rendez View, Daily Telegraph:

According to Australian Federal Police figures released recently, the number of reported forced marriages rose from three in 2014 to nearly 70 this year.

Three is too many, obviously. Nearly 70 is abominable. Before anyone makes a snarky comment and putting this on the same route as same – sex marriage, let me paraphrase the above quote slightly: According to Australian Federal Police figures released recently, the number ofcreported GIRLS BEING RAPED BY MEN USUALLY OVER TWICE THEIR AGE rose from three in 2014 (atrocious) to 70 this year (you can’t be serious!). 70 prepubescent girls are being FORCED to ‘ marry men and ultimately be raped. Tony Abbott’s former Chief of Staff, Peta Credlin was spot on on Sky’s ‘Paul Murray Live’, last night, this is paedophilia. Pure and simple.

This, of course, has made Andrew Bolt Australia’s immigration policy, yet, a young man has been accused of rapingvhis 12 year – old foster sister before she was reportedly killed.

This is happening in Australia in the 21st Century. What the hell is going on? Why are young girls, often barely pubescent, being abused like this by people who are meant to look after and love them? Why has the Australian media largely ignored the horrendous spike in child brides? Political correctness? Fear of being seen as racist? Whatever excuse people may have, this is just not on. If a person or family come from a country where this occurs, they need yo leave it when they come here. As a community, we need to make the protection of children against abuse paramount. And we need to demand any family who comes to Australia that they do the same.

 

This isn’t the only instance of children being let down by their own families. 12 – year – old Tiahleigh Palmer, who was murdered by her foster father allegedly after her step – brother sexually abused her. Friends of the young girl have told the media that she regularly expressed that she didn’t want to go home to her foster family. According to Kidspot, the foster father, Rick Thorburn has been charged after waking from a coma. This case has bought back a lot of painful memories, one survivor of Paramatta Girls’ Home , Bonney Duric has to,d news.com.au of horrific abuse she and her late sister duffered. The abuse cases were heard in the Royal Commission into the Institutional Response of Child Sexual Abuse.

 

 

Too many children are being let down by those who are suppose yo protect them. The safety and well  – being of children should be paramount to evrrybody, regardless of race, religion, gender, etc. Anyone who fails their duty of care abd are either active or complicit in the abuse and/ or death of children should feel the full extent to the law. No more excuses. Stop letting generations of young girls down.

 

If this has bought up any issues for you, you can contact Lifeline: 13 11 14.

 

 

Harrassment a ‘hate crime’? Is this a good thing?

According to feminist site, Ravishly, police in Nottingham, England are pushing to make street harassment into a hate crime. Sounds good, right? Sexual harassment should be condemned, both socially and legally. But what is sexual harassment? I ask this question because if it’s to be deemed a “hate crime”, then we’ve got to know what’s being outlawed. According to Australian Human Rights Commission, sexual harassment is defined as:

…any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behaviour, which makes a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated.

(Sounds similar to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975. I’ll leave that for another blog post on another day).

According to BBC News, the Nottingham Police defines “misogynistic hate crime” as:

incidents against women that are motivated by an attitude of a man towards a woman and includes behaviour targeted towards a woman by a man simply because they are a woman.

The Nottingham Police are even encouraging women to report what they deem to be misogynistic, even if they aren’t technically illegal so they can get support.

 

I applaud the Nottingham Police for making such a strong stand, I really do. Discrimination and harassment should be condemned, as I’ve said. My problem with all this, like 18C under the Racial Discrimination Act here, is that it can be open up to interpretation. I think it’s fair to say that any unwanted touching should be avoided at all times. Intimate touching should definitely avoided, unless it’s in the right place and it’s consented to. Beyond those obvious examples, I feel that other areas may not be so clear cut. What one woman finds, “offensive” and “misogynistic” may not be deemed “offensive” or “misogynistic” to another. Is banter deemed sexual harassment? A man calling a woman a (at least what he sees) as an affectionate term deemed sexual harassment or misogyny?

 

Basically, I wonder whether such a law can be used against someone who didn’t mean any harm and cause collateral damage like the Queensland University of Technology case did to the students and their futures. (I think that whole case was just a mess. Another post for another time on one of my other blogs – maybe). Will such a law, with good intentions, be used to destroy the reputations and futures of people who really don’t deserve it? Will factors like race, age or socioeconomic status be considered if the laws are modified to make all sexual harassment deemed a hate crime? Will men who can afford top lawyers, etc be able to get away with it anyway?

While I’ve been a big fan of anti – discrimination laws since I was in Year Nine, I can see how they can be used and abused, and it’s not always easy for victims to get justice. Also, I think, in fact, sometimes the laws themselves can be used unjustly and cause irreparable damage, both to the alleged “victim” and “perpetrator”. At the very least, terms like “misogyny”, and “offend” should be clearly defined as to protect unsuspecting people of unwarranted accusations of sexism, misogyny or people who are accused of other forms of discrimination.

Target controversy and sexism in advertising

Australia’s Target has caused controversy for displaying a “Batgirl” girl shirt for young girls. According to Melbourne’s “The Age”, Target has caved in and taken the shirts off the shelves. This comes after allegedly a number of Facebook posts and tweets condemning Target Australia selling the “sexist” shirt, which came in sizes between 2 and 12.

Check it out yourselves.

The controversial t-shirt has been pulled from the shelves.

(Image via: 3AW 693 Sept. 1, 2016 originally from Target)

 

Seems quite benign to me, to be honest. Sexism in advertising can and sometimes is a problem (I’ll talk about that shortly), but this isn’t it.

 

Yesterday, in the Herald Sun (September 1), columnist, Susie O’Brien wrote a scathing piece on double standards in advertising when it comes to presenting women in lingerie when the Advertising Standards Bureau banned an advertisement by undergarment company Bras’N’Things showing a woman in lingerie looking at herself in the mirror to sell, yep, you guessed it, lingerie, yet allowed an advertisement for a tyre company of near – naked women in provocative poses in rubber suits and using tools in a suggestive manner.

 

So, why is the second one OK, but the first one isn’t? I can think of a simple answer, actually. The first one is aimed at female audiences. And women’s sexuality (and body), is still taboo, unless it’s used to attract men. And the lingerie ad is aimed at women, not men. On the other hand, the tyre ad is OK, because it’s by men for men. It plays into the bizarrely acceptable narrative that still exists that women’s sexuality is there for men. Nothing else. Sure, you can buy the company Ultra – Tune’s argument that the ad was caricatured, but still, it portrays the same stereotype; women can’t be comfortable in their own body or sexuality unless they use it to appease men.

 

Now, maybe this is becoming slightly less common in society, but in media and advertising, no – one is learning. Frankly, like free mainstream porn, women in advertising are made to fit the typical cis – gender heterosexual male’s view on what woman are supposedly supposed to look like. Of course, not all cis – het men like all women in the same way, but it’s there is, I think, a narrative about what men generally find attractive and what, allegedly, fits their fantasies. I mean cars + provocatively – clad women = heaven. Again, not true for all men, but it’s a narrative that’s put out there.

The Bras’N’Things ad was, obviously aimed at women. It didn’t fit the narrative. It wasn’t meant to appeal to cis – het men’s fantasies. This is why I strongly believe that it was banned. Not the right audience, not the right narrative, and, therefore, too awkward. For some reason, women being confident in their own skin is too awkward, even though the media is forever talking about body image and how both girls and boys are starting to get more self – conscious about their bodies at younger and younger ages. The media need to start walking the walk, rather than just talking the talk. The Advertising Bureau need to drop the double standards (at least), start dropping the taboo of women being comfortable in their own skin in their own right, especially if they want to do a caricature of provocative women in other ads. There needs to be standards across the board. Also, the societal narrative on women’s bodies needs to change. Women can be confident in their own bodies in their own right. They don’t need to (just) be sexy or attractive just for the male gaze. If society as a whole gets that message, then, hopefully, advertisers and then Advertising Bureau may get the message and back off on the controversy. Women’s bodies need to stop being taboo. It’s 2016 for heaven’s sake!