Enough of mocking Malania Trump

Now that Donald Trump will be the President of the US, apparently, his wife, Malania is fair game.

 

Look, I can understand why people are concerned about Trump. I wrote about this in my post about the #safetypin campaign. But isn’t this racist and sexist? If anyone mocked Hillary like that, or Michelle Obama, there’d be outrage. But because she’s going to be First Lady with Donald Trump as President, it’s OK? I get why Andrew Bolt says “with the Left, it’s not the principle, but the side. If it was any other woman, the chance of this being tolerated would be nil.

 

It makes me think, when it comes to the treatment of women, whether it’s violence, mocking, teasing, etc, I can really see why people treat the Third Wave of Feminism as a complete joke – an unfunny one at that. On one hand, even the slightest offensive thing that’s said about… say Julia Gillard is condemned outright. Now, I argue that some of the treatment she received while she was Prime Minister in 2011 – 2012 –  like broadcaster Alan Jones saying that Gillard’s father “died of shame” only days after he died was appalling. He later apologised. Some of the things Trump said, especially on the tape about women was disgusting. Most people rightly condemned these comments. They were insensitive (on Jones’ part) and downright appalling on President – elect Trump’s part. Yet, there is nothing that I can see on Mamamia or Ravishly – site that’s usually good talking about not just women’s issues but racial diversity as well. Still, nothing. Now I get what Andrew Bolt means when he says: “with so many on the Left, it’s not the principle, but the side”.

 

Women like Mia Freedman try to argue about how important feminism and gender equality is. Well, how about start by treating all women as if they matter? How about condemning all sexism and racism, not just for a few? Otherwise millennials will keep running away from feminism and we’ll just be continued to be painted as nothing more than hypocrites.

Maybe I’m missing something. Have you seen any article, video, etc from a woman’s site condemning the mockery of Melania Trump? If you have, feel free to post the link in the comments section.

 

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Let’s Fight Real Battles Shall We?

Australian of the Year, David Morrison has warned against using the term “guys” at work in favour of diversity. .

I’m all in favour of gender equality, but really, can we get to a more important issue? I mean, I use the term “guys” heaps. And not always talking to (or about) men either. I find it quite gender – neutral term today.

This is a non – issue in my opinion. Let’s get some discussion on real issues.

The “Tomboy” Controversy

On “Studio 10” this morning, they were talking about an article “Don’t call my daughter a tomboy” – Meredith Hale, January 17, 2016). She was lamenting how her 8 – year – old girl called herself a “tomboy” because she liked sports and science. Now, when I was growing up, girls played sports. The difference, and what’s changing more, was the types of sports that boys and girls generally played. In Winter, girls played netball, while boys did football (Aussie Rules, where I am), while girls played netball. In Summer, boys played cricket, while girls did tennis and swimming (both boys and girls did tennis. It was the only one that I can think of in the Summer where both genders played). Now, more and more sports, including AFL and cricket has become less gender – oriented and more girls, for example, are openly talking about playing cricket and football.

So, yes, women and girls play sports and always have (well, except maybe Ancient Greece). In terms of gendered toys and school items, according to an episode of ABC’s “The Checkout”, much of it is marketing. According to a small sample study they did, the “feminine products”, (deodorants. razors, etc) generally costed more. Toys, probably for marketing purposes as well, have always been gendered, including when I was a kid. Generally, anything to do with dolls, princesses and fairy-tales were aimed at girls, where as cars, trucks, trains, Lego, etc, were aimed, primarily at boys. It was just the way it was. But, of course that doesn’t mean boys can’t play with dolls and girls can’t play with Thomas the Tank Engine!

 

I’ll be frank, something concerned me about the article itself. To be bluntly honest, I think Hale ended up promoting what she said she found so loathsome:

Of course my daughter’s a person. But she’s also a girl. And like it or not, girls reach a certain point where they become young women. I remember those awkward adolescent years, when I began worrying about appearance, and fitting in, and, of course, boys. I wanted people (boys) to see me as a girl. I wanted to be feminine – even if I wasn’t yet sure what that meant exactly.  

Call me over – analytical, call me politically correct, but the parts of the quote I highlighted above is what I have a bit of a problem with. So, Hale grew up with wanting boys to notice her? What about those who don’t? What if her daughter never has a boyfriend (or even shows an interest), in high school? Now, this may be for a number of reasons, not because she’s gay or anything, but what about those girls who are not interested, whether it’s because of being gay, or being a (non – hetero – romantic) asexual? What if she likes both? Or none? What if it turns out that she’s just hetero – romantic?

Secondly, what about if her gender expression (not necessarily identity) changes? What if she becomes a teenager or young adult and doesn’t give a stuff about make – up, dresses, etc because she just doesn’t find them comfortable? Will she still be “feminine” enough?

 

I’m not saying that Hale will love her daughter any less if any of what I wrote above comes true (she is only eight, after all). My argument was, why don’t we drop gender stereotypes all together, for all ages, so that ALL women, regardless of who they are, can be included? Aside from that, I say let her be a kid. Whatever happens, happens. And let’s stop the gender stereotyping for all ages, shall we?

Patriarchy, Feminism and Carole King

I read this post from blogger Jennifer Wilson about the Murpny in the eighties and nineties (never saw it, by the way). Anyway, the series outraged feminist when using the Carole King song (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman. So, I’m not talking about the series as much as somewhat defending King.

(You Make Me Feel LIke A) Natural Woman is from King’s 1971 hit album, Tapestry. It was written by Carole King and her first husband Gerry Goffin. According to lyric information database site, SongFacts:

{Ode Record owner Lou} Adler added: “Last year (2007), I spoke to Jerry Wexler at his home in Florida, and he told me the story that Gerry was coming out of a building in New York, (Goffin now remembers it as an Oyster House), and Jerry Wexler is passing in a car and yells out “Why don’t you write a song called “Natural Woman”?”.

So, anyway, apparently that’s the origin of the lyrics (King must’ve done the music). Now, to be honest, just reading the site before, I was a bit surprised that Goffin wrote the lyrics and not King, but is it anti – feminist?

King and Goffin married on the 30 August 1959. Back then, King was only 17 and Goffin would’ve been 19. I mean, young love, right? Also, 1959 was before the whole sexual revolution and second wave of feminism really flooded the West. But politics of that aside, doesn’t anyone remember their first love or how they felt when they first got married? Didn’t you feel like, I don’t know, you made a leap in your life? You’re married to the person you love more than you can say? Didn’t that love make you feel “so alive”? Now, I admit, I have never had the feeling that she was describing. I’ll admit that. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t women who have.

So, the “natural woman”, lyric, which I’m guessing that’s what the feminists had a bit of a gripe about. Well, these days, what describes a “natural woman”, is controversial to say the least. You just have to hear or read about the storm about Germaine Greeer’s comments about transgender women to see that. But again, I look at the song in context. The late 1960’s, early 1970’s was only the start of the period where gender norms were being questioned, especially in pop culture (the British Glam rock scene, for example). Stonewall had only happened two years before Tapestry came out.

My point is, I don’t condemn Carole King as being anti – feminist because of the song. I argue it was the time period. Have things changed since then? Yes, of course they have. We are in a full on discussion and debate about gender and gender roles, sexuality and marriage. I believe the song, when taken in it’s historical context, is perfectly valid. Remember, it’s over forty years old for crying out loud!

While we talk about the seventies, why not slam ABBA while we’re at it? Many of their songs, mostly penned by Bjorn Ulvaeus and Benny Anderson. were mostly very heteronormative, about marriage and didn’t do a lot to challenge gender norms. Should we condemn them as well? Or are they redeemed a bit because of the storyline of Mamma Mia! musical and movie (love the movie, by the way).

I get the sensitivity of gender norms, especially for people who don’t fit the sexuality/ gender majority. I do. But I think condemning pop culture, especially from the 1970’s when times were starting to change, but were still different to what they are now, just isn’t worth it, quite frankly.

What are your thoughts?

Gender

Pop star Miley Cyrus has expressed a rejection and annoyance of gender labels, telling “Out” magazine:

I didn’t want to be a boy. I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand. Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.

Now, I’m not going to define Cyrus’s gender identity, whether genderqueer, gender – neutral, agender… that’s up to her to label… if she has one at all, I guess. But it got me thinking about how I define gender for myself.

I identify as cis – female. I’ve never questioned it, never wanted to be anything else. Just female. I’m not androgynous in clothing, although, I don’t go out of my way to be feminine either. I just… am. It’s never been any different.

I saw a documentary with British medical journalist, Michael Mosley and Professor Alice Roberts researched and debated whether there was any real differences in males and females in terms of the brain on the documentary “Is Your Brain Male or Female”? Roberts started off with the argument that gender is, at least largely, to do with culture and upbringing rather than biology, while Mosley argued that biology played a more major role. What they did discover is that there are certain differences in the brains of both men and women; one fundamental difference is how men and women handle pain.

A recent American study consisting of cis gender and transgender identified children did find some overlap. They did find that for example cis – gender females and transgender females did share a pattern in how they valued friendships with other girls. This small group that was studied consisted of children between the ages of five and twelve.

I find these cross – overs so interesting, both in terms of gender and sexuality. Does that mean that we’re hard – wired to identify a certain way? It could be. But then again, what about those who don’t identify as male or female or a gender fluid or androgynous? How does such research affect them. Many of these studies tend to focus on the male/ female gay/straight/ bi lines without taking into consideration of people who don’t identify with any of the prescribed labels or different labels.

 

Fortunately, I think progress is being made. I think the more people are made to feel comfortable in their identity, the better. Whether cis – gender, genderfluid, agender or androgynous, etc, I think knowledge is power and the more we know, hopefully, the world will be a less scary place for people who don’t fit the “norm”.

What Is Feminism?

Last year, Australian Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop shrugged off suggestions that she was a feminist and didn’t see the fuss about her being a Minister and female. She was quoted at a Natoinal Press Club saying:

I don’t find the need to self – describe in that way [as a feminist]…. [Feminist is] not a term that i find particularly useful these days

(Sydney Morning Herald)

Sites like Mamamia also spoke on this. Bishop is revered both in the Left and Conservative side of the media. But this has somewhat puzzled publishers and bloggers on sites like Mamamia. Why wouldn’t she recognise herself as a feminist? Has feminism really become outdated?

Feminism is defined as:

The advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of equality of the sexes.

The history of feminism has seen great strides for women in the West since the early 1900’s, the right to vote, the right to own property, the right not to be discriminated in the workplace based on gender and/ or marital status or pregnancy (even though it still goes on). Other areas are a bit murky, as MIranda Devine pointed out on “The Bolt Report” last year. Feminism has become synonymous with other issues that not everybody agrees with, such as abortion. This, Devine argued, is where a lot of conservative women, like Bishop may feel alienated from the feminism movement, hence, her reluctance to identify as one.

I argue, too,  that some women may think we don’t NEED feminism any more, and that the 1970’s model of feminism is outdated. Generation Y (those born from 1980 – 1994 roughly), have also been reluctant to call themselves feminists (more on that on a later post).

 

I’ve got to say, there does seem to be a cliqueness to modern day feminism. Most feminist media (Cosmo, Mamamia, Jezebel, etc) is left – leaning and this is where it does run into trouble. I don’t think we have grasped on to the idea that it’s about choice. Not collective choice. Not based on the vote of all other women, but individual choice. Even if that choice is to “conform” to the “traditional gender roles”, as was written about “The Big Bang Theory” actress Kaley Cuoco.

 

I truly believe feminism is never going to work until we open the door to people of all backgrounds and all political persuasions. And it need to be based on action, not just rhetoric. Do we need feminism? I say “yes”, but lets stop being so cliquey and stand together to fight for equality for all.