gender//queer// free 0

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By Anna Hill

My name is Anna, my sexuality is Queer and my gender is Genderqueer. I like they/them pronouns and she/her ones too. It’s lovely to meet you.

Because there are a lot of definitions of the above words, I only recently discovered I was. And, as I think particularly for us gqs (genderqueers), visibility is really important. So, I wanted to share with you some of my thoughts and feelings about my gender and sexual orientation (And to reassure anyone else who feels similarly!).

I found “Queer” before I found “Genderqueer”, and when I think about why I love the word so much it’s because to me queer is free. This is an example of where definitions can actually be beneficial to lots of things: to self esteem, friendships, love affairs and confidence. I realized this about six months ago.

Since then, I’ve got my LGBTQ+ pride on and have enjoyed all sorts of wonderful things (such as rainbows and many great books about all the letters!!). I’ve found some wonderful queer people on Tumblr and have also kept some of my very wonderful, supportive friends. It’s been a lovely experience! (Unfortunately I am lucky in the context of the way queers are treated in the world).

I found this quote that summed it up for me: “Not like Queer as in gay. Queer like escaping definition” -Brandon Went

The obvious thing that I haven’t specifically talked about is the actual sex part of the “queer is my sexuality” thing. Personally, I define Queer as not straight, and although I dislike defining non-hegemonic ideas, concepts, genders or sexualities from what they are not, for the purpose of clarity this is easier. This can manifest in a lot of ways: being queer is being bisexual, is being gay, is being pansexual; it’s pretty much being whatever you like. Being queer is also about reclaiming loving yourself and not only WHO you love, but HOW you love, too – being Queer is challenging and futuristic and it does not coexist peacefully with the silly old fashioned, dusty gender binary.

More recently, I have uncovered my genderqueerness (now I sound like a gender detective, which isn’t something you should be! Respect people and respect their pronouns, whether they are kitten, her, xe, nym or muffin-top-potato). My questioning snowballed from Queer really, and this incredible exhibition called Most Important Ugly (http://arabellesicardi.com/tagged/most-important-ugly), which showcases beauty/ugliness from a wide range of people who ultimately define as a whole bunch of different and similar genders. It opened my eyes to possibilities in many of the interviews I read and it also presented me with the ability and exciting prospect of further exploring my own gender identity. This is something that I then did. I thus, I discovered how freeing (are you noticing a pattern here??) they/them pronouns were, and how they seemed to fit me on some days.

I found the word Enby (which is from the words non-binary, and are the equivalent of boy/girl), which I think is not only a cute word, but also very useful. Enby, or non-binary people are basically those that do not fit into the constructs we have of “boy/man” and “girl/woman”. They are outside that binary, and are a “third gender”, or a on a spectrum somewhere, or simply floating around in space (which is how I often feel). Non-Binary though, can also be a mix of all those feelings in one person at one time, or a combination of feeling like a boy sometimes and like out of that gender sometimes too. I am Enby, and I am happy to be. It has been quite confusing and complicated at times, because I felt a little lost, and had hardly any experience or anyone to talk to about it. But with a little help from my Tumblr friends, I pulled through and I feel happier and hazier and freer than ever.

Now I do still struggle sometimes and it can be confusing for me – for example some days I feel pretty certain I am a girl and I want she/hers please, and then some days were I continually question myself, like What am I? Shall I introduce myself with they/them pronouns? Why is this sooo confusing??!

But then I remember; my gender is important and unimportant. I am me, and ultimately that’s all I really need to survive. If you are still confused here: Sometimes I am a girl, sometimes I am not a girl. I am not a boy though, just a not-quite-really-at-all-in-the-middle-but-kinda-floating-about-on-a-cloud-of-chocolate-and-glitter Enby person.

Are we clear??

Anti-Feminism on Tumblr 0

By Kara Chyung

hashtag1 Anti Feminism on Tumblr

As a member of PBG’s fabulous Tumblr team, I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently searching through all of our saved tags, such as body image, sexism, and even Gloria Steinem. However, I’ve been avoiding the feminist tag recently due to all of the anti-feminist content that gets posted there. Some of the content attempts to be diplomatic, but some of it is just appalling. It can be offensive to see someone call something that you believe in useless, and it makes me a little sad to see that some people view feminism in such a negative way.

Here are some of the most common misconceptions about feminism that I have seen on Tumblr. Some of them refer to specific posts, and others I’ve seen many times.

1. Feminists hate men and believe that they are better than them.

Many people confuse feminism with misandry, but feminism is about equality, not superiority. Some people make the assumption that since feminists want to empower women, that means that they therefore want to suppress men. I support feminism because I believe that female gender inequality is more prevalent, but I also believe that men suffer from gender inequality and that these issues should be addressed along with women’s issues.

2. Feminism is a movement for the privileged.

I saw one particularly disparaging YouTube video about this topic. Basically, the maker of the video claimed that it was pointless and useless to spend energy advocating positive body image and reproductive rights while women in other countries are forced into marriage, banned from receiving an education, and raped on a regular basis. Of course female genocide is a more urgent and serious matter than objectification of women by the media. But both are their own breeds of bad, and it’s silly to suggest that one cannot be an advocate against both.

3. If you try to argue with feminists, they’ll just call you stupid and insult you.

There are probably feminists who refuse to listen to others’ points of view and maybe go a bit too far when trying to prove a point. But guess what? There are people who dismiss any opinion that isn’t their own in every movement, and feminism is not supported by a disproportionate number of them. To claim that an entire group of people with the same beliefs is by definition uncompromising (and rude) would be both unjust and incorrect.

4. Feminists are ugly women who can’t get laid

This is a reference to one awful post that I saw. According to this person, the problem is not the tremendous pressure that women face to be attractive, but the fact that some women are not attractive by society’s standards. Not only does this post belittle the importance of feminism in our culture, it also trivializes women’s experiences with gender inequality by labeling feminism as a way for women to justify their hurt feelings. That’s not to mention the glaring problem of attempting to set standards of beauty for women. Grr.

I’m not saying that the feminist movement is flawless or that women who don’t call themselves feminists are horrible people. But I wish that more people would see the strengths of feminism, because ultimately feminism does not only advocate for the rights of women. Feminism is a movement that is founded on the belief that no one should be discriminated against for who and what they are. And that is something we should all get behind.

Heads They Win, Tails You Lose 0

By Elli Wilson

newspapers 0 Heads They Win, Tails You Lose

Ladies, I have some not-so-shocking news for y’all; in the eyes of our largely sexist and often misogynistic mainstream media, you can never win. Some of you have no doubt already reached this conclusion but it took me almost 18 years to come to the realisation that no matter how long I spend trying to ‘fix’ myself, there will always be another ‘problem area’ which is just crying out for a good wax/work out/cellulite-reducing massage (delete as appropriate). I now know that I can never look like the models in the hyper-sexualised adverts that have become the wallpaper to our lives because they are so heavily photoshopped and airbrushed that they don’t even look like themselves. I’m also aware that if I dare to be successful, I will receive less media coverage than men and if I do receive any it is far more likely to be negative and/or focused on my appearance. Yep, in 21st century Britain the representation and portrayal of women in the media still isn’t looking too great.

We live in a society in which the media is incredibly hostile to women, their bodies and their achievements. Nothing we do is ever good enough. We are either too pretty, too ugly, too thin, too fat, too successful, too unsuccessful, too career-oriented, too family-oriented, too prudish, too slutty, too uptight or too slobby. This list could pretty much continue ad nauseam. Whenever a women is in the public eye you can bet your bottom dollar that she will receive gendered comments about her appearance, her family or lack thereof, and her credibility that no man ever would. Think of the ridiculous commentary about whether Hilary Clinton can be both a presidential candidate and a grandmother, or the way Jennifer Aniston has often been depicted as sad and lonely since her relationship with Brad Pitt ended. And such treatment is not just reserved for individual women but for our entire gender. The behaviour of girls and women is frequently blamed for all manner of ills, from badly behaved children to the perceived crisis of masculinity. The media doesn’t just criticise and belittle us; it also polices our behaviour.

So let us be clear; media sexism is real and it has real consequences. The media’s obsession with women’s appearance – from Page 3 to talk of female politicians’ clothing – tells us that our looks are our most valuable asset. The way that certain newspapers talk about rape victims perpetuates our victim blaming culture where the victim is often held as accountable as the perpetrator. The near total lack of representation of women of colour, disabled women and LGBTQ+ women is a travesty that furthers the restrictive heteronormative, white nature of the society in which we live. As a woman, the mainstream media does not represent me or treat me with respect.

In fact, the mainstream media doesn’t represent or respect many people at all apart from a gilded elite who happen to be largely wealthy, white, heterosexual cisgendered men. This is a total joke and something that I hope the people-powered, accessible nature of the Internet can start to address. Online initiatives such as this one and the hundreds of others like it are working to redress the bias and underrepresentation of traditional media. It’s high time to make a change. If you don’t like what you see, do something about it; our voices and our words are powerful and we can make a difference.

The Unspeakable Things Have Been Spoken 0

By Sophia Simon-Bashall

unspeakable The Unspeakable Things Have Been Spoken

Laurie Penny. If you’ve not heard the name before, it’s about time you paid attention. I’m a little biased perhaps, as Penny is nothing short of a hero to me. But honestly, she’s great. She’s recently released a book in the U.K., to be released in the U.S. in September. It’s called ‘Unspeakable Things’, and hell, she talks about exactly what girls are told not to. If you’re looking for an easy going, ‘yes you can be a feminist, love pink, wear false eyelashes and shave your legs’ book, this is not for you. Laurie Penny in general, is probably not for you. She is not interested in sugar-coating this movement, making it appealing to the masses. In her eyes, its appeal should just be a given. Frankly, she thinks this kind of lipstick feminism is rather silly. For her, it’s about the nitty-gritty, the things that nobody likes to talk about. But she’s talking about them, and she certainly won’t be silenced any time soon.

Penny interlinks serious analysis of a range of issues, with the ways in which she has personally been affected, making for a very interesting and thought-provoking read. However, the personal side is no sob story – it’s a cold, slightly bitter narrative, at times, relaying the harsh truths of eating disorders, rape culture, and more. There’s no sugar coating, it’s completely honest. And yet, she’s not claiming to speak for everyone, which is an irritatingly common mistake in discussion of these topics. In fact, she regularly stresses otherwise, pointing out that she is a white, middle-class woman; therefore privileged, and unable to tell every woman’s point of view. It is often assumed that feminist texts speak for all women, and often writers assume this ‘voice of the people’ stance. It is incredibly refreshing that Laurie Penny openly refutes this.

The book is in many ways a rant. It is an intense outlet of anger about the world; about neoliberal capitalism; about patriarchal constraints; about transphobia; about white/male/heterosexual/cis-gender/middle-class privileges – you name it, Penny is probably pissed off about it. But it’s still very eloquently written, aside from the regular effing and blinding. She covers ground such as mental illness, single motherhood and abortion. It’s true, these are all topics covered before, but here is the view of a young woman – a view from someone of this generation. However, more importantly, she attacks things barely touched upon before like issues with modern feminism, cybersexism, and uniquely, men’s issues. But it’s not what you think. The chapter on guys is actually the best part of the book. If you only read one part when you pick it up in the bookshop, make it the ‘Lost Boys’ chapter. It’s genuinely eye-opening, and you won’t regret it.

Her unrelenting wit and her ingenious prose style make this book brilliant. Though it was a moving and engrossing read, there were moments when I found myself laughing out loud, because, yes, Laurie Penny kicks patriarchal ass. It is full of dry humour – fitting for the mood of the book and the nature of the issues discussed. Highlights include; “those who are so eager for women and girls to go back to the kitchen might think again… you can plan a lot of damage from a kitchen. It’s also where the knives are kept” and “Having it all now means having a career, kids, a husband, a decent blow-dry – and that’s it.” And that’s only in the introduction.

I’m not saying I agree with every little detail in the book. In fact, there were several points made that I frowned at and found myself strongly disagreeing. But that doesn’t mean I don’t value what’s said – quite the opposite. It’s a reminder that we don’t all have to agree on everything. It’s a necessary aspect of this movement – differing opinions, challenging others and being challenged, that’s how the Suffragettes arose! What matters is that, at the very core, we are united in ideas and are willing to fight for social change. This is how we will make equality a reality.

Cabinet Reshuffle, Same Sexism 0

By Jessica Hayden

dailyfail2 Cabinet Reshuffle, Same Sexism

The cabinet reshuffle promised to be a great day for women in politics. Women were promoted, such as now Minister of State for Employment, Esther McVey. Campaigns such as 50/50 parliament – which seek for a more equal male/female number of MPs – rejoiced at the news that the future may hold a cabinet that isn’t exclusively male and “fat, balding Tory, Home Counties, upper-middle class twits ” as Bridget Jones so wonderfully puts it.

However the media’s response to what was supposed to be a triumph for women was disgustingly sexist, to say the very least. The words “child care” and “school run” were used too often when talking about how on earth the women could possibly handle being politicians and also juggle their “mothering responsibilities”. Of course no reference was made to David Cameron’s ability to juggle being a father of three and being Prime Minister, despite him forgetting how many children he has and leaving one in a pub toilet back in 2012. The idea that a woman should focus only on their children and not have a career belittles women and encourages the belief that women should only ever be stay-at-home mums, which is dangerously old-fashioned in a “modern” society.

The Daily Mail, as always, did their absolute best to patronize and insult women, calling the reshuffle a “catwalk”, describing Esther McVey as “The Queen of the Downing Street Catwalk” and a “thigh flashing vision”. Once again, The Daily Mail cared more about what women look like than what talents they may have. The Mail went as far to say “She needs to tone it down a little for attending Cabinet meetings.” As her “bust-emphasising” dress was just too much for the paper, which homes the infamous “side-bar of shame” which tells women they are too fat, too thin, show too much skin but not nearly enough skin, all at the same time. Women are never going to be respected in The Mail, but this article still infuriated me, feminists all around… and Nick Clegg, apparently.

Clegg responded to The Daily Mail article, saying he thinks “it’s demeaning, old-fashioned and most people would just think it’s completely out-of-step with modern Britain.” It’s brilliant that a recognised man in politics has noticed the blatant sexism of the media. However some of his comments, such as it being “out-of-step with modern Britain” were ambitious.

Unfortunately, this attitude to women in politics IS modern Britain and more needs to be done to establish women in politics and present them in a fairer way, like discussing their jobs, rather than their skirt-length.

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OITNB Shows How Sex Education (or lack thereof) Has Failed Us 0

By Christiana Paradis

If you haven’t finished binge-watching OITNB then I don’t know what you’ve been up to the past month that was more important, but you should really get on that!

In the fourth episode of the second season, “A Whole Other Hole,” we see Taystee, as well as several other inmates, learn that the “pee hole” is not the same as the “vagina hole.” The episode goes on to show Taystee trying to find this mysterious third hole, that in her entire life, she never knew she had! It isn’t until Sophia, another inmate, finally explains to her where it is that she discovers it for the first time. Due to the lack of understanding of female anatomy Sophia (a transgender woman, portrayed by Laverne Cox) decides she is going to sit all of the women down with a diagram and explain to them the anatomy of the female vagina. OINTB pokes fun at the fact that women know very little about their vaginas and they push this further by using Sophia to explain it to the inmates. This is noticed by Taystee who makes a comment/implies “I never thought I’d learn more about my vagina from someone who used to be a man.” This show does not suggest this to make fun of transgender women; rather, it pokes fun at the overall fact that women know very little about their vaginas and the fact that most women have never really taken the time to sit and look at them.

sex ed 1 OITNB Shows How Sex Education (or lack thereof) Has Failed Us

This episode might have been the funniest episode of the whole season. I could not stop laughing the hole way through. However, it wasn’t just the characters’ fantastic bantering that made it hilarious; it was the fact that the episode was so realistic. I could relate to the conversation that was taking place because I’ve had similar conversations with other women. Furthermore, I’ve watched men have similar conversations with other women, too.

You might be asking yourself how can a woman not know what her vagina looks like? Well the answer is simple, women are never, ever encouraged to actually look at it. It’s this void that we make cute name for so we can pretend it doesn’t actually exist. Our down there/private parts/peach/pooch/pee pee/va-jay-jay, etc. is something that we aren’t to talk about or look at. Furthermore, there is very little if ANY actual education provided to women AND men about the physiological structure of our vaginas.

Our sex education (or lack thereof) as well as health education has miserably failed us, and the fact that this failure is so ingrained in our culture that we can make it a part of television series is something we should not be proud of. Furthermore, while I was watching this show it made me wonder how many other women were watching the show learning about their third hole for the first time, ever! It is arguable we all learn something every now and then from a television series, but information about our basic anatomy and the parts of our bodies that belong to us, should not be one of them. So ladies, I’m calling you out, one by one, take the time—even if only for a minute—and learn to love and know ALL the parts of your body. You’ll find you’re quite remarkable and as always—simply beautiful.

sex ed 2 OITNB Shows How Sex Education (or lack thereof) Has Failed Us

Building This Girl

By Becky Dudley

How many times have you been surrounded by people stood on chairs, proudly proclaiming the words ‘I AM A FEMINIST’? Personally, that would be once – last Thursday, myself and over 1500 people did just that. Why? Two words: Caitlin Moran.

photo1 1 Building This Girl

Unfamiliar? Caitlin Moran is described on Wikipedia as a broadcaster, TV critic and columnist, as well as being a very vocal feminist. She’s also one of my heroes. This time last year, I was an angry teenage feminist who felt like the last one of her kind. It was through reading How To Be A Woman (Moran’s second book) that I realised I wasn’t the only one who felt that way. It was that that gave me the courage and direction to be louder about how I felt – it was that book that set me off on the direction to Powered By Girl. In many ways, I feel I cannot thank her enough.

Admittedly, there is not all praise. There have been complaints of Moran being homophobic, racist and transphobic. For every person who sees her as an inspiration, there will be another who sees her as a damage. I’m not going to defend her against any of these complaints or allegations, because it is not my place to. What I will say, however, is that Moran has done a huge, huge amount for publicising the idea of feminism, and for getting people to talk about it and see it as a more positive thing. From my experiences, I would say that her intentions are good.

Caitlin Moran’s latest venture is her novel, How To Build A Girl. To promote this – and feminism in general – she’s touring, reading excerpts from her book, making people laugh, doing book signings and selling merchandise to raise money for women’s charity Refuge. The Bristol show sold out fairly quickly; I was thrilled to be able to get a ticket!

It began unassumingly enough- a big stage that rather dwarfed the table and chair placed in the middle. However, as soon as Moran entered I began to wonder if the stage was big enough for her massive personality. Within ten minutes of Moran’s entrance (to rapturous applause), she read out the section of How To Be A Woman instructing the reader to stand on their chairs and declare themselves a feminist – resulting in the experience detailed in the opening paragraph. However, it didn’t stop there. Proving how quick modern technology is, Moran had photographed and tweeted the picture within seconds, before continuing with the show.

For those who have read her books or heard of her elsewhere, you will know that Moran prides herself on the more unmentionable subjects, and her show was no different – it contained all sorts of details about periods, masturbation, sex and poo, punctuated with frequent swearing. Though not to everyone’s taste, I revelled in it. There are so many seemingly taboo subjects that women are frowned upon for speaking about, whilst men are given free rein – having overheard far too many conversations about males and their masturbatory habits, it was refreshing to hear a woman discuss all the things we aren’t ‘meant’ to.

Another thing I took from the evening was Caitlin Moran’s comments about confidence. Seeing her up there, seemingly at ease on stage with an audience of over 1800, I would never have thought that she could have been anything but confident. However, she described how, when she was younger, she almost didn’t go to an important meeting because she didn’t think she could do it. How did she overcome it? She pretended she was Courtney Love, and ‘faked it till she made it’. As she said, it’s what everyone else is doing.

Near the end of the show, Moran pulled up her top and got her stomach out to demonstrate what she calls ‘a feminist smile’. Remember that this is a woman approaching her 40s, with two kids. She is not the stereotypical size 6 that the media wants us to believe has the monopoly on showing skin. She is human, with all the imperfections that come from life. And yet, over 1800 people applauded her stomach. When surrounded by body-shaming and depreciation, that was a hugely empowering moment.

After doing her whole show standing (despite the chair and table placed strategically on stage), Moran left to a well-earned standing ovation. Meanwhile, the audience were left to rush out to the queue for the book signing, which snaked right around the venue. I was stood two people behind a woman wearing a No More Page 3 top. Bearing the words ‘fake it till you make it’ in my head, I told myself I had Caitlin Moran’s confidence, tapped the woman on the shoulder and asked for a high five. Five minutes later, the two of us and another passing woman were ranting aboutPage 3 together. I stuck with the first woman and her friends for the rest of the queue, and had several more conversations with people triggered by our tops. By the time we reached Caitlin Moran, we decided that a group photo was a must, and Moran was more than happy to oblige- after all, it was she who said, during her show, that she loves how the book signing queues help to form the revolution.

As for my personal encounter with Caitlin, I cannot speak more highly. When faced with a very overwhelmed crying 17-year old who kept thanking her, her reaction was to hug me a lot, and to tell me how ‘f*cking awesome’ my clothes and smile were. I asked her advice about a decision I’ve recently been agonising over, and she was more than happy to talk to me about it and to give me advice that I know I will follow. I couldn’t believe how much energy she had, nor the way she genuinely cared about each and every fan that she spoke to.

Overall, it was a truly amazing night, and I came away feeling just like I did when I first read How To Be A Woman: empowered, inspired, and very much part of the feminist revolution.

Orange Is the New Black – could it start a new trend?

By Alice Koski

OITNB Orange Is the New Black   could it start a new trend?

Orange is the New Black is my new obsession. Hilarious, dramatic and centred on women who are dealing with real, hard-hitting issues – what’s not to like?

If you haven’t heard about Orange is the New Black (or OITNB for short), let me fill you in. Original to Netflix, OITNB is a show which first aired in 2013 and is now two seasons strong. It’s been a huge hit with both viewers and critics and season three is currently in the works. Set in a women’s prison, the show follows its main character Piper (played by Taylor Schilling) along with many others as they serve their sentences with each other. It’s fascinating, hilarious and sometimes heartbreaking to see how the characters deal with the different issues, from addiction and loneliness to tampons and chickens (watch to find out!).

But the thing that strikes me most about Orange is the New Black is that it’s one of the only popular shows out there that represents a truly diverse range of women and portrays each of them as complex individuals. Frustratingly, a lot of mainstream television fails to do this: women are often typecast into narrow roles beside their male counterparts, such as The Girlfriend or The Love Interest. This categorising of women sends out a message that there is nothing more to these female characters than the one-sided personas they are presented with. Furthermore, mainstream television often fails to properly represent minority groups such as LGBTQ+ women and women of colour, which again presents audiences with false ideas about what women are like and how they should be.

However, I believe that every woman who watches Orange is the New Black will be able to relate to at least one of the characters. The diversity of the cast is unparalleled – there are white women, black women, hispanic women, asian women; there are women of all shapes and sizes; there are gay, straight, bisexual and transgender women (Laverne Cox is brilliant); there are old and young women. Writer for the show Lauren Morelli has written that ‘Casting the show was thrilling. The array of skin color and the range of bodies were unlike anything I’d seen on television before… it felt important to be telling stories about women who are largely ignored in the mainstream media.’ It is not just OITNB’s inclusion of these different types of women that is appealing, however, but its portrayal of them as complex individuals. Although these women are criminals, the audience is shown that this is and not the be-all and end-all of who they are. OITNB digs deeper than surface level by revealing the characters’ pasts, complexities and vulnerabilities. No, they’re not perfect role models, but they’re real and they’re complex, and they are not limited to being The Love Interest or The Girlfriend. This is something we need more of, not just in television, but throughout the media.

Unlike most media that is about or aimed at women, OITNB does not rely on glamour and style to pull in viewers. The actresses’ make up is minimal and everyone wears the same unflattering prison uniforms. Of course, make up and styling is not inherently a bad thing, but it’s refreshing to see a show that isn’t obsessed with appearance. Kate Mulgrew, who plays Red, says ‘I think women get tired of the standards that Hollywood continues to impose. On our beauty, on how we should look, on how we should behave, on what is sexually desirable, on what it is that men want. Finally, this is a series about us, and people dig it.’ I think she’s hit the nail on the head. Unlike a lot of today’s media, Orange is the New Black does not set out to make its viewers feel inferior. At the heart of the show’s success is, I think, it’s raw and realistic portrayal of women. And quite frankly, I think it’s almost a criminal offence that the world has gone without it for so long.

Breast Amnesia

By Jessica Hayden

photo Breast Amnesia

Breast Amnesia – forgetting that breasts are actually there to feed children and aren’t necessarily there solely for sexual pleasure…

How many of us suffer from this?

I recently read an article online about Ashley Clawson, a woman who was refused to breastfeed in Victoria Secret, a lingerie shop. My first reaction was wondering how I would respond if someone asked me if they could breastfeed in my hypothetical shop. I decided that the best solution would be to say yes, of course, and perhaps offer a more private area, purely for their comfort rather than my opinion on public breastfeeding. Then I considered why breastfeeding is encouraged to be such a private act whereas sexualising breasts is such a public act. You not only see women in their underwear in adverts and on the sides of buses, but breasts appear almost daily in your “family” newspaper. I started reading what other people thought and the response shocked me. The vast amount of replies were calling breastfeeding in public “wrong” and “embarrassing”. However, there was one woman’s response which left me completely baffled. She called breastfeeding in public “inappropriate”.

What kind of culture teaches that breastfeeding is inappropriate? How is it that our society has evolved in to one which calls a pair of sexualised breasts in a newspaper “tradition”, and vilifies anyone who dares protest against it (which has certainly been my experience when campaigning for No More Page Three, a campaign which seeks to remove glamour modelling from The Sun, a so-called “family newspaper” which has a page dedicated to sexualising women) yet dismisses a woman for having her breasts out in public in order to feed her child – which, let’s remember, is what her breasts are meant to do! Victoria Secret, far from celebrating women’s bodies, as they would so have you believe, have illuminated the cold misogyny which I have named “breast amnesia”.

If breast amnesia isn’t a sign of how our society is reducing women to being purely sexual beings, then I don’t know what is. It’s time we started discussing it.

#AskThicke

By Cora Morris

With the notorious Robin Thicke’s new album came controversy. And rightfully so – it is supposedly one huge attempt to ‘win back’ his (poor, poor) ex-wife Paula Patton in what is, to us, to be the most frightening, harassment-endorsing way possible – remember, nothing says ‘I love you’ like financial profit from emotional manipulation!

Two weeks ago, the music video was released for one single off the album, entitled ‘Get Her Back’. In this video, we see a selection of texts that ping backwards and forwards across the screen between him and the estranged Paula, wherein she stands her ground and he is relentless in his pathetic, stalker-esque manner. The final message from Patton reads ‘I have to go’. His response? ‘This is just the beginning.’ This suggesting not only that her ‘No’ is of no value to him whatsoever (deja-vu anyone?), but that he will endeavour to continue regardless.

After receiving widespread criticism from so many (not least every feminist ever), American cable channel VH1 had an idea. Someone, somewhere, in a tiny boardroom in New York, thought that hosting a twitter-based question-and-answer with Thicke was a good idea. The hashtag? #AskThicke. The rest of the world laughed hysterically- but in the most brilliant way possible. They laughed through Twitter.

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