Looking for Something?
Browsing Category

Posts

We Are More Than Just a Distraction

Author:

By Lily Scott

dress_code_pic

The sun is getting hotter and the days are getting longer, summer is finally here! That means bare legs in the grass, floaty tops and warm sunshine on our tummies right? Nope, not quite if you’re still in school or college. Across the country, school administrators are trying their hardest to cover up any parts of the female body that are deemed ‘inappropriate’. In many schools, this includes: legs, shoulders, cleavage and midriff. Exactly the parts of the body that suit the summer weather.

Last week, I walked into the front gate of my school and was pulled aside by a male teacher. He told me that the bit of skin showing between my high-waisted jeans and baggy crop top was not acceptable and I must go home to change immediately. Walking home, my frustration grew at the dress code that humiliates and shames girls in school when they should be in a lesson, getting the same education as the male half of the school. At most schools, dress code violators are either sent home or made to change into any item of clothing thrown at them from the lost property cupboard. It’s embarrassing being targeted like this, leaving many girls with loss of self-esteem. Although there are rules for boys, they are not as frequently enforced and only state that t-shirts can’t reference drugs or anything sexual. It is unequal that boys can walk around freely showing their underwear beneath saggy jeans, yet the slightest glimpse of a bra strap and teachers practically faint with shock. Everyone is aware that most girls do in fact wear a bra underneath their clothing, so why are bras treated as such a mysterious taboo that must not be seen or mentioned? Bras have become the Voldemort of the clothing world.

The rules for women will never, ever be simple. We are expected to conform to both the media and school’s expectations and tread a very fine line of being pretty and appealing but not revealing. We are told that we must be pleasing to the eye but not too suggestive or sexy. These guidelines tell men that it is okay to slut shame and eventually leads to the idea that when a women is sexually assaulted, it is the clothes that she was wearing that are to blame. In other words, ‘she was asking for it’. Girls as young as 13 are being told to change when simply showing their legs in shorts, or bare shoulders in vest tops. These students are too young to be sexualised in any way and are taught from such an early age that their bodies tempt men and it is their responsibility to stop leering or harassment.

It is unlikely that school uniform policies will be relaxed as authorities are intent on their belief that they are doing what is best for the students. It is clear that what they are doing only benefits males as the distraction of female bodies are taken away, making it easier to concentrate on learning. However, we could argue that young men are very capable of exercising self-control and will not always go wild at the sight of a girl’s bare shoulders. If it is absolutely necessary to apply dress codes, it should be equal for boys and girls, so that the system doesn’t favour one gender over another. It should not be the concern of a female to change the way she looks or dresses so that a man won’t view her in a certain way. What needs to change is the attitudes that girls are simply sexual objects to be hassled or catcalled. We should be taught to be confident and proud of our bodies, not policing ourselves for the male gaze.

Why Does the World Cup Hate Women?

Author:

By Issy McConville

article-2666287-1EF8296200000578-619_634x388

The other night, I watched the football. My dad watched the football, my mum watched the football, 13 million other people watched the football. 13 million tears ran down 13 million faces as England’s World Cup hopes were kicked into the dust by the boot of Luis Suarez. Yes, love it or hate it, World Cup fever has truly set in. Giant England flags adorn houses across the country; ‘Fantasy Football Leagues’ have become the new ‘Doing My Work at the Office’; and every-man and his dog are flogging some kind of tenuously World Cup themed gear – Pot Noodle anyone? It’s exciting, it’s unifying, we all flock to the pub for matches of countries we couldn’t even point to on a map. To borrow from the lyrical immortality of The Farm, we are ‘all together now’ – one big football shaped earth united for four weeks in our love of the beautiful game.

But are we? While I was watching the England v. Uruguay match, I couldn’t help but notice that there were no female commentators during the ITV coverage. Again, during the BBC coverage of the England v. Italy game, there were no female commentators. Two major British channels, two matches with an enormous audience – and no women. I don’t think it’s too radical to suggest the line-up could have included a female voice – women watch football, women play football, women are just as qualified to talk about it. Undeniably there are some hugely respected female names in sports presenting – look at Gabby Logan, or Clare Balding – and yet female voices were excluded from the biggest sporting event in the world.

In reality, women fail to be supported at all levels of the game. The English team in the Women’s World Cup are currently at the top of their group in the qualifying stages, but this has hardly received coverage. Earlier this year, leaked emails from Premier League chief Richard Scudamore, in which he refers to women as ‘gash’, revealed sexism at the heart of the industry. As children we’re told that football is a boy’s game, and it is often not offered to girls at school. A friend of mine, Jess, is a qualified coach and plays women’s football. She’s a really good player, but says she’s always told ‘you’re good…for a girl’. Why must her gender determine her ability as a player? Why is female interest in football so often seen as an oddity, an exception to the norm? Last week my driving teacher told me that ‘about 90% of women who go to matches only go to look at the fit men’. I almost jumped out of the moving car on an A- road. Yes, I cannot deny that I have enjoyed the presence of Thierry Henry and his cardigans during BBC coverage. But this isn’t the reason I’m watching. In fact, if eyeing up the players was your aim, you’d be left highly unsatisfied, as for the majority of a match you can only see small blobs running around the pitch.

These attitudes are undermining women’s enjoyment of, and involvement in, football, and they need to change. We need to celebrate women’s football, and encourage girls to play it at school. And this needs to start from the very top. By including female panellists at major matches, television companies can really lead by example; taking a simple step towards recognising and valuing women as equals in the football industry. This is not a journey that can be completed in 90 minutes, but we can at least take a step towards the goal.

Myself as a Man-hater

Author:

By Yas Necati

Someone told me recently that they thought I hated men. They couldn’t provide a reason why, but seemed convinced, somehow, with no evidence, that this was the truth.

So I just thought I’d make it clear here (although if you read my blogs, you probably already know): I do not hate men. I LOVE men. There are a few that I dislike, but there are a few women I dislike. I don’t have a problem with these select few for their gender, rather their principles. It is not men I am against. It is the patriarchy I am against. Male-domination, male-privilege, not men.

If I EVER do ANYTHING that implies that I hate men, please call me out on it. Because I don’t hate men and I don’t want to give that impression. If I’m acting in a way that suggests man-hating then that is not only offensive but it is wrong.

I’m not here to promote gender-bashing, I’m here to promote equality. I’m not here to promote discrimination, I’m here to promote acceptance. I’m not here to promote separation, I’m here to promote cohesion. Most importantly –

I’m not here to spread hate. I’m here to spread love.

Beauty is in the Eye of the…Media?

Author:

By Guest Blogger Aimee Polimeno

 

lupita-lightened

People Magazine’s Epic Photoshop Fail of Lupita Nyong’o

It’s no secret that our media-driven culture values an extremely narrow and stereotypical version of beauty, usually represented by a Size 2, photoshopped model. Most people know that judging and media photoshopping any girl larger than a size 4 has a detrimental impact on girls’ body image, and so it’s an issue fought by activists on many fronts. However, what many of us tend to overlook is that our culturally biased ideal of beauty does not encompass only body size, but also race.

The lack of models of various races and ethnicities in media, not to even mention the tendency to photoshop lighter skin tones on those few models and artists who do make the covers of magazines, is one thing. The association in movies and TV between violence and skin color is another. We teach children that when race is visible at all, light is right and everything else is…well, wrong. Consider seemingly harmless animated films like The Lion King, where our main man Mufasa and his family are a lighter fur color, while the evil and calculating Scar is a darker shade. Think about all those dark-skinned evil queens in Disney films.

Multiple studies have been done in psychology and sociology dealing with this early priming of children to favor light over dark, and the results are heartbreaking. A recent study conducted with young children in Mexico featuring a white doll and a black doll found the same results as a famous U.S. study conducted in the 1930’s by Kenneth and Mamie Clark. “Which doll is good?” the children were asked. “Which doll is bad?” “Which doll is ugly?” Almost all of the children associate positive words like “good” and “pretty” with the white doll and words like “bad” and “ugly” with the darker skinned doll. When asked why they like the white doll better, the children aren’t entirely sure; they just know that it’s the better doll. And here’s the heart-breaking part: when asked which doll looks most like them, the children struggle, knowing they have darker skin too, knowing that choosing the darker skin doll forces them to associate themselves with being bad and ugly.

These children are not born with a preference for lighter skin and the lighter dolls; this value has been forced on them unknowingly by the images they see and the stories they are told. This damaging set of values is deeply rooted in our culture and media and, as a result, we as consumers support and perpetuate the problem. There are entire shelves in drugstores dedicated to skin-lightening creams and hair relaxants, but these would not exist without significant demand. It’s difficult to be a critical consumer when we’re constantly barraged by images and ads telling us how we should look and what it means to be beautiful. But the fight has to begin with each one of us.

SS-Shirley

Shirley sings “I Love My Hair!”

There are some positive signs of change. In 2010, Sesame Street featured Shirley, an African-American puppet girl singing about all the reasons “I Love My Hair.” With over 5 million views to date, it’s clear how important (and rare) it is for young African-American girls to see a character representing them who believes her untreated hair is fun and gorgeous on its own.

Shirley and her message of self-love and acceptance became a sensation and an inspiration for young Black girls. If one puppet can make such an impact, why can’t we as a collective group follow Shirley’s lead? It starts with challenging what we are sold in the media and then looking in the mirror and within ourselves to realize that we are beautiful. I am beautiful, and you are beautiful. Together we can push back against the cookie-cutter image portrayed in our media so young girls of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities can open a magazine and see a beautiful women who look like them. Like Shirley, love your hair, but also love your eyes, your curves, and your mind, and let the world hear it.

Shout Out To Guerrilla Girls! Thanks For Keeping It Real

Author:

By Guest Blogger, Barbara Mejia

Naked1989

“We’re feminist masked avengers in the tradition of anonymous do-gooders like Robin Hood, Wonder Woman and Batman. How do we expose sexism, racism and corruption in politics, art, and pop culture? With facts, humor and outrageous visuals. We reveal the understory, the subtext, the overlooked, and the downright unfair.”

Guerrilla Girls burst on to the scene in the mid 80’s through the unconventional ways they drew attention to the lack of female representation in art. They made posters, hosted workshops and gave lectures, and here’s the curveball, they did it all wearing gorilla masks. I’m a fan of their campaign for public consciousness about the inequalities women face in all facets of our society, especially the art world, not only because of their important message but because of their radical masked avenger attire and because they receive no profit for their activism.

Each Guerrilla Girl takes the name of a famous artist and wears a gorilla mask, bringing humor and a bit of shock value to make their message the center of attention. The act of removing their identities from their activism ensures the message and information speaks for itself, optimizing the voice behind the mask and serving as a filter for society’s need to critique and judge female appearance. And this is what I love the most: the gorilla mask serves as a majestic metaphor for the fury that women facing invisibility and adversity carry, but are forced to suppress.

Their posters draw attention to the inequalities in the art world. There are so many amazingly talented female artists, but the art world has historically and continues to use the female body as a commodity. One can only imagine the difficulty a female artist faces when her profession views her gender as a prop for beauty and when her body of work doesn’t match up to what a male-defined art world most values.

As someone who works hard to be conscious of the ads and messages that are fed to me via popular media, I find it refreshing to see creative campaigns like the Guerrilla Girls. Their genuine goal to educate and empower the public and to make people more culturally and socially conscious of the inequalities that remain in our immediate surroundings inspires me.

A campaign motivated simply by the desire to educate and bring awareness to people is a rare occurrence in our capitalistic society, where the likes of Dove and Pantene sell products in the guise of making us aware of the adversities and social pressures women face. I don’t like the lingering feeling that I have to buy shampoo and soap in solidarity of their campaign. I don’t like the thought that buying their products to improve my appearance supports a campaign telling me that appearances don’t and shouldn’t matter.

This is a shout out to Guerrilla Girls, the original culture jammers. Thanks for keeping it real. Keep taking the country by storm!

Hey there!

We are Powered By Girl. We're young women who write for young women. We do it because we believe there's more to 13-25 year old women than clothes, boys and celebrities. So please have a look at our stuff, and join us!

Sign up to get our blogs in your inbox!