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Revolution

I won’t be Jumping on the Brand-Wagon

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By Cora Morris

“It is an incredible time to be alive.”:

A phrase that seems to flash across my brain all the more frequently at the moment, in quiet moments of humbled acknowledgement. Indeed I see it elsewhere too. It’s chucked around incessantly at rocket launch after rocket launch, called out when another medical breakthrough hits the headlines. With each and every flashy new gadget, we are reminded of the wonders of human achievement, and it is brilliant. I am as glad of these things as the next person, they delight me. But, in all truthfulness? (more…)

Could this be the end of Page 3?

Author:

By Jess Hayden

Recently I chatted to a bunch of lovely women about the No More Page Three campaign. I was near the end, and was about to crack a great joke about John Snow telling the news topless, when I saw a hand rise in the fourth row. A woman, who I estimate was probably in her forties, said “I’m sorry, but what is page three?”

I was fairly shocked. I guess I had just assumed that everyone had seen it, or at least heard about it. It made for a great discussion though. I explained that Page Three was a feature in The Sun, a newspaper who label themselves “family friendly,” and is made so that the average 8 year old could read it, but also shows a woman with her boobs out on the third page. I reckon this woman’s reaction was the best part of the whole talk.

“Seriously? How long’s that been going on for?” she called from the audience.

“It started in the 70s,” I replied to her.

“That’s disgusting. I can’t believe that’s allowed in a paper,” was her response.

It was like I had paid her to ask the question, it gave me the perfect opportunity to highlight the ridiculousness of Page Three. It’s worth noting that the whole audience were quietly giggling and tutting at how completely stupid Page Three sounds when you explain it to someone who’s never seen it before.

It was not until a few days later when, on a train journey in to London, the very woman who had raised her hand Tweeted me to alert me of a Tweet sent by Murdoch.

Murdoch Tweet

I literally gasped for joy on the train and just wanted to tell someone, anyone, about is. I can’t explain what a great feeling it is to know that something is changing, and that I am a part of the reason why. Hours of writing, days of protesting, months of campaigning, years of hoping were finally paying off. I had this instinctive reaction of “this is it” and I really just wanted to cry. Page Three, the single thing that had succeeded in destroying my early teen years, was going to be no longer. Finally, there would be No More Page Three.

My excitement doubled when Alison Webster, the official Page Three photographer, tweeted this:

Sunphotographer

In the space of a night, it seemed the end was near. For some people Page Three might only be a page in a newspaper, something they’ve been lucky enough to be able to turn a blind eye on, but not for me. Not for 206,000 other men and women who have signed the petition. Not for the many ex page three models we have in our campaign. For us, and each for our own reason, this was the end of the suffering.

Page Three still exists though. The next morning, my hopes were somewhat dashed when I saw Kelly, 19, from Brighton stood in her knickers. I must point out that I don’t buy The Sun, but checked if the Page Three feature was there on this day. Somewhat naively, I had expected a revolution over night, but sadly this was not the case.

Help us defeat Page Three. Sign the petition. Have a conversation about it. We know people are talking about us since #nomorepagethree was the third biggest trending topic on Twitter the last month. You’d be surprised at how many people support us. Get involved, and join the only revolution where #pyjamaactivism is a key concept.

We are closer than ever. The time for change is now. And with your help, we’ll get there.

Being an MP is not for me

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By Becky Dudley

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Parliament: it’s a man’s world. To be more specific, it’s a straight, white, middle class man’s world. For something that’s meant to be representing our society as a whole, it’s doing a pretty awful job. What we need, more than anything, is far more people who aren’t straight, white, middle class and male to be in Parliament, representing all those currently lost in the sea of identical faces. However, with the way things stand, I, for one, will not be one of them. Despite wanting to prove a point and do what we’re not ‘meant’ to, I do not want to work in Parliament. I’m here to tell you why.

Firstly, let’s look at some statistics. In the last election, 650 people became Members of Parliament. 147 of these were women. That’s around 23% –  hardly representative of the UK population, which is 51% female. The statistics for ethnicity and class are just as bad (if not worse), and each are deserving of their own post; I could rant for hours on any of these. For now, however, I’m going to stick to looking at the statistic for women.

To try and rectify the obvious inequalities, quotas were introduced. To my mind, quotas are like Marmite – you either love them or you hate them. Like Marmite, I’ve not yet decided which side I’m on. However, what the quotas have done is given rise to new terminology – for example, ‘Blair’s Babes’ and ‘Cameron’s Cuties’. Both of these terms – which refer to the group of women working for the relevant Prime Minister – make me feel genuinely sick. They are demoralising, demeaning and downright disgusting. The use of the surname and possessive apostrophe signifies that all the women in these groups belong to the Prime Minister – playing into the ever-present objectification of women. Meanwhile, the use of ‘Babes’ and ‘Cuties’ reduces the women to pretty faces, to sex symbols. These women are all there on their own merit – they are far more deserving than these descriptions make them seem.

This is not the only problem that these women are facing. For women in Parliament, there is no way of being right. When they appear in the media, their clothing and appearance choices are far more likely to be commented on than anything else. There’s a plethora of negative stories, with each female Member of Parliament having faced their own equally awful battles, revolving around sexist comments, unfair media representation, and even discrimination based on their having children – regardless of the fact that men, too, have children and childcare responsibilities.

Even the physical representation inside Parliament is hugely biased. Whilst walking around on a recent tour, we noticed one female statue: that of Margaret Thatcher. We also played a ‘game’ of ‘Spot the Women’ with a painting of the House of Commons in session. It was far harder than the average game of ‘Where’s Wally?’.

But these all come into effect later on, once you’ve gained your votes and got the right to your bum on a seat. There are perils to face beforehand, too. To get in to Parliament, it seems that you must do two things: know the right people, and take up social drinking. Both of these are pretty exclusionary. For a start, how many average members of society have the necessary connections to get them into – or even near – Parliament? A quick survey of the eleven people I am sat with finds that no-one has these connections. Moreover, it follows that if connections are needed, then there’s likely to be a ‘sort’ of person who has them, a theory as close as proven by a look at the current government.

To look at the second option, social drinking, it’s clear that there are fundamental flaws here too. In 2009, it was found that around 15% of people in England are tee-total – they abstain from drinking alcohol, for religious, personal or other reasons. This means that 15% of the population wouldn’t be able to follow this route at all. Even for those who do drink, it’s a pretty dismal concept. What it’s saying is that, to gain a job in Parliament, you must firstly become just like every other person in Parliament. In short, you must become ‘one of the guys’.

With all of this in mind, the only conclusion I can find is one I would much rather not come to: Parliament is unrepresentative, and it’s unrepresentative for a reason. If it’s not hard enough for women to get in in the first place, life gets even harder once they’re there. I take my hat off to each and every woman working in Parliament – I couldn’t do it. It’s no wonder that the statistics are so awful. We need this to change, and we need it urgently. However, this can’t be a small change – every new woman in Parliament is a success for us all, but we need more. We need a huge, drastic change. We need 51% of the Members of Parliament to be women – something that the 50:50 Parliament campaign is currently fighting to achieve. We need to have our statues, our pictures, of women. We need the media to report on what we’re actually doing, not on what we’re wearing or looking like. In short, we have yet more need to start the revolution.

Building This Girl

Author:

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.

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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.

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