By Rachel Harris April 19th was a day of highs and lows. During the day, school was abuzz. Everyone ...
by Alice Woods, guest blogger
Kristen, Andrew and I sat in a booth near the windows. The Stanford/Hecht dining hall hummed with the sound of many young voices peppered over the incessant buzz of industrial refrigeration. I don’t remember how the word ‘bitch’ came up in conversation; today, in any description of women, the word is often casually implanted, so its use in this case was not significant. Nonetheless ‘bitch’ triggered my newly conditioned response: to point at someone and say, half-jokingly, “Hey, we don’t say that.”
“What?” Andrew was confused at my offense. My closer friends know of my recent feminist sensitization and might jokingly apologize or make some snide comment about women’s and gender studies. I gladly accept these responses as they fit into my larger goal of subtly sharing my strong sentiments of equality while always seeming to take this “feminism thing” only half-seriously. I’m not nearly comfortable enough at this school to openly share my “controversial” point of view.
In any case, Kristen, being in on the ongoing “joke” about the field of study to which I may devote my life, said, “Alice is a feminist so she doesn’t like that word.”
Her condescending tone snapped something in me. More seriously, but still always keeping anything feminism-related very light, I slapped the table and turned to her saying, “You are a feminist!”
She laughed and looked at Andrew, who she had been casually sleeping with for about a week. “Not really,” she corrected me.
I asked the two questions I always ask when trying to force the label of feminist onto others who reject it: “Do you think women should be paid as much as men in the same work? Do you think women are culpable for their rapes?”
Kristen cut me off before I finished, “I know, I know,”—she had heard me grill others with the question many times before—“but like,” she continued, while Andrew watched, laughing, “I’m not really a feminist, I really think women should just take care of their kids.” She sped up as she always does when making a long point. “Honestly if someone told me they would pay me to just stay home and take care of my kids and clean and cook, I would love that.” She giggled at Andrew.
“Yes!” Andrew slammed his fist down on the table. “I love it.” He loved it. He adores her and she knows what to say to continue that adoration, to make him think about marrying her.
“I would too!” I chimed in, angry that this girl, who I know is studying neuroscience with the hopes of becoming a brain surgeon, felt the need to cut down my beliefs in order to impress her love interest. “But that’s just what would make us happy,” I continued. “That might not be what makes everyone happy and they shouldn’t have to do that.”
Neither Kristen nor Andrew listened. My words, as any about gender equality and any that, dare I pity myself so, are spoken by a woman, were zoned out as hysterical nonsense—in this case, hysterical and distinctly unattractive nonsense. I am used to this from men, but Kristen’s insult, and it was an insult, had me seething.
Why is this topic so laughable? Why, when I bring up feminism, this fight for equality, do men and women roll their eyes and tune me out? Why must feminism be such a dreadfully unattractive and taboo topic of conversation? Why do I feel the need to giggle self-deprecatingly when I tell people that this is my major? My foray into what I have come to think of as my “out-loud feminism” has been marked with these kinds of questions and frustrating conversations. There have been moments of shame and embarrassment associated with my point of view, but there always exists some feeling of pride during and after these incidents. I feel like I know that I am right, and if others cannot see the validity in my statements, that is their loss.
And yet I so often feel it is my loss when others cannot see through the comfortable bandage that the media and society have wound around their eyes. I am the recipient of mocking and worst of all, indifference. I am not used to my words and views being so chastised by those I share them with. I find myself grateful to the point of tears when I find a sister in my fight, or an enlightened man. Feminism binds me to those I might not otherwise find common ground with but cuts me off from many who I might otherwise open up to. In this way, I have found it to be like an unpopular religion or a cult. From this comes the absurdity of my situation: the idea that there exists a cult of equality. Don’t most people believe in equality? Apparently not, as my views and my fight for equality are laughed at, and brushed off.
And yet, even through my frustrations, I get constant reminders of the importance of this fight, and the small ways in which I can see that feminism does make a difference to keep me afloat. I am not going to stop asking people not to say “bitch” and “slut” even while my peers may not be able to understand why these words frustrate me. And after months of constant reminders, being dragged to women’s leadership events, and seeing the feminist articles and videos that I never stop posting on Facebook, my friends have indeed decreased their inadvertent slut-shaming, and use of derogatory words and comments. Most of all, I am happy to report that Kristen no longer denies being a feminist, at least not when I’m around.
There’s this wacky thing in Britain where people think it’s ok to have soft porn on the third page of a family newspaper. Yas Necati, of the No More Page 3 campaign, discusses Page 3, it’s problems and why 43 years is about time to see the end of this sexist and embarrassing institution.
What is it?
Back in the 1970s, when sexism was still so extreme that a woman couldn’t even buy her own property, two newspapers decided to start printing pictures of women in nothing but their knickers. One of them* dropped this idea in the next decade because they realised it was sexist, degrading and out of place. The other decided to just carry on, and does so to this day. Apparently it’s all just a bit of “harmless fun.”
This might all sound a little bit nonsensical, but I’m not making it up! This is the reality in Britain, where our biggest selling ‘family news’paper has just celebrated 43 years of selling topless images alongside the sport, celebrity gossip and updates about the royal baby…
The name of the newspaper is the Sun… in terms of pathetic fallacy it’s rather ironic, if you think about it! The images pretty much always feature on the third Page in – bit tricky if you’re looking to check the weather (page 2) and want to avoid the lady with her breasts out the next page over. Occasionally the image moves back a few pages to make way for a news-feature (generally to do with men), but it’s pretty much always there even if it’s behind a little!
Page 3 features glamour models. Unpredictably, they represent a binary and stereotypical ideal of beauty. All models are between UK sizes 8 and 10. Their average cup-size is a D/DD. 87.5% of them are white. None of them are male.
The bare-breasted images appear every day of the week, apart from the weekends when the models wear bras… because, obviously, it is impossible for children to see the newspaper on weekdays.
Good question (we’re pretty baffled ourselves!). According to previous editor, Dominic Mohan, Page 3 is a “British institution” that represents “youth and freshness.” The current editor believes that there’s more raunchy content at museums… seriously! Maybe the real reason is that some people are just afraid of a world where women are actually treated with respect.
How on earth is this still happening?! Exactly the question actress and writer Lucy-Anne Holmes was pondering one day… she even lost sleep over it! So she decided to do something and start a campaign. No More Page 3. We’re pretty rad.
The No More Page 3 Campaign
During the 2012 Olympics, the biggest image of a woman in Britain’s biggest-selling family newspaper was a topless one. It was even bigger than the picture of Jessica Ennis, who had just won a gold medal for the country. This preached one unfortunate and despairing message: as a woman in Britain, what you look like is more important than what you do.
Lucy became upset by this and decided to start a campaign. A year and 125, 710 signatures later, we’re fighting stronger than ever. With the support of UNISON, NUT and the Girl Guides, as well as over 50% of female MPs, we’re not backing down. We’re a group of 18 volunteers, but a network of thousands of women and men who are fed up and have had enough. The Welsh Assembly support the campaign and the Irish Sun have dropped Page 3… it’s only a matter of time before Britain will follow…
Protestors on Page 3’s 43rd anniversary
*The Daily Mirror
Have beautiful dresses hanging in the back of your closet that you haven’t worn in ages and will probably never wear again? Know anyone with the same problem? There’s a solution…
After seeing a link on the Girl Up website, I have decided to host a VivaDressUp dress drive at my school. VivaDressUp is an online consignment platform where charitable organizations can raise funds by donating gently worn special occasion dresses, which in turn are sold through flash sales. A dress drive is a chance for you to get your family, friends, and anyone you may know to donate a dress (or several!). It is a chance to raise money for a worthy cause. Most importantly, it is a chance to give back.
VivaDressUp sends you all of the supplies you will need to carry out the dress drive. All donors will have to do is bring in a gently used dress and fill out a form. At the end of the drive at my school, which will last for three weeks, I will ship all of the dresses to VivaDressUp in San Francisco. Afterwards, the dresses will go up online and be sold in a flash sale.
For my dress drive, I have decided to give the portion of the money raised from the sales to Turning Point, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence. According to their website, Turning Point’s mission is threefold:
Visit www.turningpointlv.org to learn more about the amazing work that Turning Point does every year.
I’m so excited to start this dress drive, and I encourage you all to give it a try! Discover more at , or check out www.vivadressup.com to find out what you can do to start a project for the causes most important to you!
by Kara Chyung
Check out Yas giving an interview to The Telegraph on why students deserve comprehensive sex education! We are proud to call her one of our own