Browsing Tag:

feminism

  • Shero

    Faces of Feminism

    We had the honor of interviewing these two amazing young ladies, Olivia Bokesch and Callan Burton-Shore, the co-founders of Faces of Feminism after discovering them on Instagram. Their website, https://facesofeminism.org features tons of interviews with people who are asked to speak about what feminism means to them.

    Can you tell us why you wanted to start this project?

    We wanted to start this project because we experienced daily dismissal of feminist issues by people who think the cause does not pertain to them. The group that we saw this in the most was men because they often think they can’t be feminists since the traditional definition of feminism is about equal rights for womxn. We want men and others to understand that just because they have the privilege to ignore the feminist cause, does not mean they cannot still support a progressive movement for womxn’s rights. Another group that often distances themselves from feminism is the queer community, especially non-binary people, femmes, and trans women. This is because these people have historically been excluded and in some cases oppressed by feminists. We want Faces of Feminism to not only teach less educated activists about intersectional feminism and privilege, but make a space where people of all genders, sexual orientations, cultures, ethnicities, races, and levels of ability can be included in the fight for justice, especially those people who have been historically oppressed within the movement. Ultimately, we started this project to change the face of feminism. 

    Can you tell us in your own words what you think feminism is and isn’t?

    Callan: Feminism is intersectional; feminism is not exclusive. Feminism is ever changing; feminism is not stagnant. Feminism should make you think; feminism is not always comfortable.

    Olivia: Feminism is a progressive movement of open-minded, but not always like-minded people. Feminism changes over time to become more intersectional and include new definitions of what being a woman/femme/non-binary person means and to include their lifestyles.  Feminism is not made for only one gender to take part in and is not made to make anyone in the human race better than another. At its core, feminism is the equality of genders, and at its peak, feminism is the equality of all humankind.

    Can men be feminists?

    Callan: Men can absolutely be feminists. We try to get as many men involved with FOF as we possibly can! It’s a total misconception that men can’t be feminists, and it’s similar to the misconception that white people can’t fight racism. However, just like it must be when white people act against racism, when men are feminists they must take a step back and let womxn speak/act first. In every instance of inequity, there is the oppressor and the oppressed, so to be a good ally/ feminist when you are the oppressor, you must realize that the oppressed group has been fighting this war far longer than you have, and you must let them take center stage.

    Olivia: Men can be feminists because anyone can be a feminist! One of the central goals of FOF, is to teach others that you don’t have to be a cisgender woman to fight for equal rights in the name of feminism. However, like Callan said, it is important for men to know when to take a step back and listen to womxn and let them take charge of their own rights.

    Who are some feminists you admire both from history and from modern day?

    Callan: I admire activist Mona Chalabi who uses her knowledge as a data analyst to prove that injustice still exists (in spades) in the world. She makes extremely creative and captivating graphics to the present the data. I also admire Marsha P. Johnson. She was a black, transgender activist who fought in the Stonewall riots and started one of the first organizations to support non-binary and transgender youth. Lastly, I admire Stacey Abrams because she has made strides in a state that often turns red in elections. She also always prioritizes womxn’s and marginalized community issues, despite the challenges she faces as a black woman in politics. 

    Olivia: A feminist I admire from history is the writer and black queer activist, Audre Lorde. She helped to kickstart a new wave of intersectional feminism that involves any and every womxn. I highly recommend the book Sister Outsider, a collection of her personal essays and poems. A modern feminist I admire is Rebekah Bruesehoff, a 12-year-old transgender girl. After having the privilege to see her speak, I was moved to become a better and stronger ally for the LGBTQ+ community. Her powerful story and voice is constantly used to further equality for all, something this world could use a bit more of.

    What would success look like in terms of equal rights for all?

    Callan: I think full equality is a long way away, but it is important to celebrate the little successes along the way. Examples of these successes will be when equal pay is established, when queer individuals are given access to all rights and resources they need, when there is representation of ALL marginalized groups in media, when the disabled community is seen and heard, when disproportional gun violence affecting POC communities is eliminated, and when religions, such as Islam, and their places of worship are respected fully. Ultimately though I believe that it is equity, not equality, we should be striving for.

    Olivia: Full equality is a one step forward, two steps back type of deal. Progress is gained and lost daily, especially under the current United States government administration. Although it is more likely than not that the world will never reach it, full equality starts when the privileged acknowledge their historical oppression of minorities, like slavery, as well as acknowledging that many systems this world is built off of systematically oppress and take advantage of marginalized groups. Equal rights for all will take many more decades of unlearning and relearning the world as we know it today.

  • Confidence

    Please Don’t Tell Me to Smile

    Please Don't Tell Me To Smile

    Please Don’t Tell Me to Smile

    My Thoughts on Being Approachable

    Approachable. Is that what I need to be?

    No more of my time will be spent agonizing over comments that I am snobby, bitchy, and unapproachable. However, I think I’m over that now.

    I’ve been told that I come off as distant – uninterested in getting closer.

    The truth is, I don’t like attention from people I don’t like. That is what I’m uninterested in. It doesn’t appeal to me. I value my privacy and my space, and I’m prepared to give it up for a select few. It’s not because I think I’m better than anyone.

    I’m nice. As well as polite, curious, considerate and understanding. If you talk to me, you will see that I’m far from cruel. Anyone who wishes can approach me, and I’ll treat them with kindness.

    However, I admire and encourage attention from a select few.

    Why is this wrong?

    Why do I need to make myself available to the world, or to anyone who wishes?

    I am not a 24/7 gas station. I’m a person.

    Nor am I the door to a home – open, closed, locked; difficult, pliable.

    I don’t exist only to tend a doorstep.

    I don’t need to be decorated and passive.

    Show me a man under scrutiny for being unapproachable. Or is that unnecessary, since he is always the one who approaches?

    He walks, he chooses, and I sit?

    I will manage the door to myself however I wish.

    Most of all I wish to never be a door.

    I am a walking, living thing.

  • Articles

    The Impossibility of South Korea’s Beauty Standards

    Korean Beauty Standards

    The Impossibility of South Korea’s Beauty Standards

    South Korea is notorious for its impossibly high beauty standards.

    Take a look anywhere in Seoul, and you’ll see makeup shops proliferating the streets. There are advertisements for everything from advanced moisturizers to long-lasting lipsticks. Above all, western features are highly desired. For instance, double eyelid tape is commonly used for achieving enlarged eyes. Tinted lenses transform brown irises to bright blue. Skin-lightening products are everywhere. In a society as fast-paced and conformist as South Korea’s, companies and consumers thrive on adopting the latest makeup trends.

    Ironically, South Korea’s competitive drive is both a blessing and a curse.

    Because of this drive, Korea gave birth to technological powerhouses such as Samsung and LG. Likewise, this constant push to be good, better, best, permeates throughout Korean beauty standards. Korean society expects women to look their best to keep up. Everything from shedding glasses in favor of contacts or having surgery. Often, this helps to better employment prospects. A tapered jaw suggests femininity and a high nose bridge implies elegance. These societal standards encourage women to strive towards the same aesthetic ideals.

    In response to unrealistic beauty standards and broader cries for women’s rights, South Korea is currently undergoing a feminist awakening.

    Sparked partly in the wake of the #metoo movement, South Korean women have been taking to protests and the Internet to voice their cries. The initial backlash against feminism was unusually vitriolic, steeped with anger. Economic discontent compounded this backlash. However, to many people, the response was expected. South Korea has a tradition of being culturally conservative, and its Confucian society is, subsequently, deeply patriarchal. The Korean hoju system was a family register system making men the legal the head of the household. In 2008, the Korean government abolished this law.

    In the face of opposition from both men and women, Korean feminists remain undaunted.

    One new movement, called “Escape The Corset,” calls for Korean women to fight unrealistic beauty standards, some of which require 10-step skincare regimes and hours applying makeup. Women in this movement often adopt short hairstyles, comfortable garments, and, above all, no cosmetics. Apart from being a time and money-saver, Escape The Corset is a broader challenge to Korean patriarchal views that women. These views, are that women subordinate to men and thereby must expend more effort to be acceptable. To many supporters of Escape The Corset, freeing themselves from their cosmetic “corsets” is a form of liberation — a step towards greater freedom in all aspects of Korean society, from employment to appearances.

    Like any other deep-set ideology, progress takes time.

    In conclusion, it will take time for Korean beauty standards to change: to embrace monolids, to stop idolizing Western features, and to accept people as they are. However, I have faith in South Korea. As a country, they believe in strength and harmony. Korea unites in times of need, and values progress above all else. I believe that change will come — one corset at a time.

  • Articles

    My Relationship with Body Hair

    My Relationship with Body Hair

    Guest Post by Mallory (Mal) of Hyper Feminism blog

    If you’ve seen much of anything on my blog you’ll know how strongly I feel about period positivity – and that, for me is mirrored in all things girls are brought up to feel ashamed about. Periods, body image, sexuality and our body hair (among others obviously) are all things that we learn to surround with shame and silence, where they should be topics coloured with conversation and choice.

    In year eight I was desperate to shave my legs, all of the girls I knew were doing it but my mum wasn’t having a bar of it. She tried to explain over and over again that my blond leg hairs would only grow back dark and spiky and I’d never be able to stop, but I was on a teenage warpath. Eventually it was decided that I could remove my leg hair, but only if I used an epilator, which in hindsight I’m sure was intended to put me off immediately (if you’ve never seen one, it’s basically a little device that you run up and down your skin and it grabs your hairs and pulls them out, it’s not at all pleasant). As you can imagine, I didn’t stick with this for very long and would only use it occasionally, never really doing a great job.

    I’m not sure that I ever actually cared about leg hair, then it was really just a thing I wanted to do because everyone else was. Then as I got older and started to swim more and more competitively my leg hair became a thing I only got rid of when I had a competition I deemed important enough to sit on the edge of the bathtub and wax my legs with the strips you warm up with your hands. Pro-tip: those strips suck and take far too long to warm up to cool back down straight away, but don’t resort to warning them up using a hair straightener, you will burn yourself.

    Swimming is when I started to pay attention to the other hair on my body. I shaved my armpits and bikini line constantly for a long time, I felt so self-conscious being in just my bathers and having hair there, like people would be constantly staring and judging me. Eventually, I stopped waxing my legs myself and started getting them done by a professional (which was much quicker and there were no hair straighteners involved) and only before a major competition like states or nationals. I relaxed toward my underarm hair but kept shaving my bikini line, always resulting in ingrown hairs. I also started shaving my pubic hair, as I’ve mentioned here before ya girl gets very heavy and long periods and I hated having hair down there for that time of the month, but also for competitions because I didn’t like how it felt under my racing bathers. My skin is super sensitive and prone to ingrown hairs and I never talked to anyone about shaving my pubic hair and I had no idea how to deal with it aside from layering on ‘bump eraser’ cream and riding out the itchiness. 

    I shaved my legs for the first time when I was in year twelve. I still rarely shave them, it’s not a thing that bothers me, and for the most part the vast majority of people could not possibly care less and I refuse to feel ashamed about it, even though there are still people (in 2018!!) who feel like it’s okay to try and make me feel otherwise. Last year I started laser hair removal for Brazilian and underarms and I haven’t looked back. I don’t like having pubic hair and I don’t find underarm hair comfortable, so I made a choice to deal with it. A lot of it is a laziness thing, I hate shaving, but mostly it is a choice I made because of my skin sensitivity. I don’t get itchiness and ingrown hairs after laser and it doesn’t take me three days to recover from removing my hair, at this point, I hardly get anything growing back.

    But the thing is, I don’t have to justify my choice, because it is just that, a choice. And that goes for any choice any woman makes about her body hair (and her body for that matter), it’s all personal preference and that’s all it should be. Feel however you want to feel about body hair, do whatever you want with it, but don’t let anyone else dictate what you want to do. Body hair is natural, but you’re no less of a woman (or a feminist) no matter whether you let it grow, trim it or get rid of it altogether. And remember that body hair is not an all or nothing situation, do what you want with the hair where you want to.

    If you are going to learn anything from my experience – especially if you’re younger, you’re going to get rid of hair in your private areas, ask someone if you don’t know what you’re doing and don’t just suffer from itchiness in silence. And to my sensitive skinned humans who don’t like to have hair, maybe look into laser, it really did help me!

    What about you, tell me about your experiences! You can comment below or hit me up on any of my socials!

    Love,

    Mal xx

    https://hyperfeminism.com/contact/

    PS- we love Mal’s body positive attitude! Want to check out more about body positivity? Click here for another GirlSpring article on this topic, https://www.girlspring.com/healthy-body-image-why-its-important-for-you-and-others/

  • Articles, Portfolio

    5 Bad Ass Women in Military History

    5 Bad Ass Women in Military History

    by Jana Brown

    This was originally posted in May, we are re-posting in honor of Veteran’s Day.

    It’s May, which means it’s military appreciation month. In honor of some of the many kick ass women that have served in armed forces across the globe, here is a brief overview of some of their names and accomplishments.

    Cathy Williams
    Cathy Williams illegally enlisted in the US military as a man using the name William Cathay. The year was 1866, and she was the first African American woman to enlist. Williams was born a slave, and ended up joining the military after the American Civil war ended and she was freed.

    Unfortunately, shortly after joining the military she contracted smallpox, and was discovered to be a woman while she was receiving treatment for the illness. Thankfully, her doctor didn’t out her as a woman and she was discharged due to disability.

    Buffalo Calf Road Woman
    Buffalo Calf Road Woman, or Brave Woman was a Cheyenne Native American who was said to have knocked Colonel Custer off of his horse before he died in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.

    During the Battle of the Rosebud, she saved her wounded brother on the battlefield. Her actions inspired and rallied the Cheyenne warriors after they began to retreat, and in turn the Cheyenne defeated General George Crook and his forces.

    Annie Fox
    During WWII, Annie Fox was the first woman to receive the Purple Heart. She was the head nurse at a hospital in Pearl Harbor during the attack.

    Instead of ceasing operations during the attack, she continued to command her nurses and staff, and performed her medical duties even during heavy bombardment. Army reports say that she worked effectively and maintained a level head throughout the duration of the attack.

    Juana Azurduy de Padilla
    Azurduy was a leader of the military during Bolivia’s struggle for independence from Peru during the 1820’s and 1830’s. As a skilled military strategist, she commanded the army on several different occasions and even organized the Leal Battalion. The Leal Battalion took part in the Battle of Ayohuma which resulted in the retreat of Argentine troops from Alto Peru.

    She was so hardcore that she led and fought all throughout her pregnancy. During a fight she excused her pregnant self to give birth on a river bank before almost immediately jumping back into action.

    Joan of Arc
    You’ve probably heard of Joan of Arc, she’s pretty famous. She is considered to be a French hero for her actions during the Hundred Years War and was canonized as a Roman Catholic saint.

    Joan said that she received visions from Archangel Michael, Saint Margaret, and Saint Catherine of Alexandria telling her to assist Charles VII in overcoming the British domination during that time period.

    Charles VII (who was not yet technically king) sent her on a relief mission to the Siege of Orleans, which was then lifted nine days after her arrival. Her being there during several different battles inspired the French army to take her advice and follow her orders since her words were thought to carry divine power. She was considered to be a brilliant war strategist despite being so young; take into account that she was only 19 when she was burned at the stake after undergoing British trial.

    Please note that you can find the sources I used to research this article by clicking the links below:

    >here: https://www.ranker.com/list/american-female-war-heroes/davidseidman

    >here for the information on Buffalo Calf Road: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_Calf_Road_Woman

    >click here for more info on Joan of Arc and Juana Azurduy de Padilla: https://taskandpurpose.com/8-badass-women-warriors-military-history/

    >More info on Joan of Arc: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_of_Arc

  • Articles, Woman's History

    Different Waves of Feminism

    You may have heard about the different waves of feminism online or in various feminist groups. This article will go into the different waves of feminism as they occurred in the US and define some of the lingo I’ve been hearing in different feminist circles.

    First Wave Feminism
    This wave of feminism happened during the 1800’s and early 1900’s, and seemed to focus on getting women the right to vote, on allowing women to own property, allowing women to execute wills, giving married women the right to control their own income, etc.

    Second Wave Feminism
    This period of feminist thought and activity took place starting in the 1960’s and lasted until about the 1980’s. Second wave feminism focused on women’s access to birth control, gender issues in the workplace, women’s domesticity, domestic violence, equal pay, marital rape, rape crisis centers, women’s shelters, and led to changes in laws regarding custody and divorce.

    Third Wave Feminism
    This feminist movement began in the 90’s and lasted up until 2012. Third wave feminism emphasized intersectional feminism, transfeminism, ecofeminism, and sex positivity. This particular wave sought to challenge the idea that feminism was only for white women (a big criticism of second wave feminism), and to discuss the intersection of race and gender. It emphasized the importance of diverse feminism.

    Fourth Wave Feminism
    This wave started in 2012 and is the wave of feminism we are in now. It addresses issues regarding the wage gap, sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace, implicit bias against women, rape culture, domestic violence, intersectionality/ inclusivity, and trans inclusive feminism.

    Feminist Lingo / Terminology You Should Know About
    -Intersectional: This term was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw as a way to describe how overlapping oppressed minority identities operate in systems of oppression. One example of an intersection would be a woman who is both queer and a PoC. Crenshaw has written about her intersection as an African American woman.

    -Transfeminism: Transfeminism or trans inclusive feminism describes a branch of feminism that addresses issues that trans women face. It talks about transmisogyny, that is, the oppression that comes with being a woman and being transgender.

    -Ecofeminism: This philosophical view combines environmental concerns with feminist ones. Ecofeminists use gender dynamics as a way to look at how humans treat the environment.

    -Sex positivity: This is a social idea that sex is not something to be ashamed of. It promotes ideas of safe and consensual sex, and does not tolerate slut shaming.

    -TERF/ RadFem/ Radical Feminism: This acronym stands for “trans exclusionary radical feminism”, which essentially states that trans women’s experiences should not be included in feminism because of the idea that trans women benefit from male privilege. By nature, trans exclusionary radical feminists discredit the experiences of trans women in a very toxic and transphobic manner.

    -SWERF: “Sex worker exclusionary radical feminism” is the idea that women should not be sex workers, and often involves discrimination against woman sex workers. The idea being that sex workers are constantly sexually objectified and are therefore participating in their own oppression by working these types of jobs.

    -Slut shaming: The idea that sexually active or promiscuous women should be shamed.

    -Reclamation of derogatory words: Many feminists think that women using words that have been used to oppress them, such as “bitch”, “slut”, or “cunt” can take the sting away from hearing it used negatively. It gives the oppressed some level of power over the language used to harm them.

    -Pop feminism: This terms refers to surface level ideas and understanding of feminism, or feminism that is promoted by brands/ corporations in advertisements that only care about your money. One example would be the “ban bossy” campaign, or those deodorant commercials that feature a woman standing in a bathroom at her office trying to convince herself to ask for a pay raise.

    -White feminism: This term describes the type of feminism that only concerns itself with liberating white women.

    Sources:
    First wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First-wave_feminism
    Second wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second-wave_feminism
    Third wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third-wave_feminism
    Fourth wave feminism: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth-wave_feminism

  • Articles, Tough Questions

    FeMENism: What Feminism Can Do for Men

    September 2016 Writing Contest Winner

    If you’re reading this, you probably know what it is. You’ve heard about it on the news, in Beyoncé songs, in viral videos, and on this site. Throughout its meteoric rise in the past century, feminism has been a hot-button topic for much longer than we’ve even been alive. Now more than ever, there is a push for equality and more girls, women, and men are getting involved than ever. But…unsurprisingly, the discussion of feminism – much like the discussion of any social equality movement – tends to inadvertently dredge up a trove of people who are simply uninformed at best and willfully ignorant at worst. The question on the lips of many men in particular is, “Why should I be a feminist if feminism hurts men?”

    To be frank, this question comes from an incorrect understanding of what feminism is. Put simply, feminism is the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes. That’s all it is. Many ask, “But isn’t feminism about hating men?” No, it’s about equality, not bashing or oppressing one group or the other. It’s about raising everyone to an equal playing field. Sadly, a quick scroll through any comment section on a feminist social media post will show that there still exists a great deal of ignorance on the topic. I need not repeat the insults and threatening language which often pervade these vitriolic comments about how “feminism is evil and seeks to hurt men”.

    It’s true that people who have never experienced oppression will find equality to be a burden. A lot (but not all) of upper/middle-class white men probably have never experienced oppression, so I understand how it can be hard for men to see why women want change. But I believe that if men would look at what equality would really mean for them, they would all want to be feminists too.

    One big way in which feminism can help men is in the area of gender roles. Many feminists advocate for the flexibility of gender roles. As part of feminism’s message of equality, strict, traditional gender roles are seen as being generally toxic and detrimental to society. Just as women live under the pressure of being feminine, delicate, traditionally attractive, mothering, and sexy all at once, men live under the pressure of being masculine, strong, capable of providing, emotionally resolute, and physically perfect. For both sexes, the weight of these expectations is enormous. For many feminists, flexible gender roles mean that women do not always have to be perfectly feminine (i.e. they can be providers, be physically strong, and present themselves as more masculine than feminine, among other things). With regard to men, flexible gender roles mean that they don’t have to be perfectly masculine (i.e. they don’t have to be the sole provider, they can be emotionally open, and not face pressures to be physically perfect, among other things).

    When we seek to open a positive dialogue on gender roles, feminists actively work towards making the world a more comfortable and freeing place for both men and women. For some men, this is a big selling point of feminism. Without the constant pressure to provide, to be constantly masculine and strong, and to be the model of a perfect man, men can relax and share their burdens with everyone else – including women. From a male standpoint, this is only one of feminism’s many benefits. But as previously stated, so many men are still in the dark about this exact topic.

    So next time a man tells you that feminists are all out to attack him and every other man on earth, tell him that men benefit from feminism too. I believe that the future of feminism is bright, but we still have a long way to go and we have to continue to educate the ignorant if we want equality to be a reality in our lifetime.