Tag Archives: literature

Good things that Feminism Does.

While I was moaning to my lovely, patient boyfriend (becoming embarrassingly self-aware of the hole of self pity I’d dug myself that day), he said something that reminded me of something that I’d lost sight of:

“Mais, I’m not sure that feminism should be something that makes you so angry”

He didn’t mean the anger and injustice which, by necessity propels the movement. He didn’t mean the rage and sympathy felt when you learn for the first time about the results of the systematic oppression and abuse of women across the world (FGM, Child marriage, illiteracy gap, wage gap etc). Of course not this kind of anger is one of the fundamental pillars of feminism; righteous anger, just anger, necessitous anger. Sometimes we need other people to be angry for other people- the voiceless and the isolated- or how would anything ever be achieved?

He didn’t even mean the (equally valid) vexation and frustration felt on a local level; the kind provoked by day-to-day contact with LADs, sexist lecturers, white male politicians who make decisions about the bodies of the female populace, people who think feminism ‘doesn’t need to be an issue’, and countless other provocations that women encounter every, single, day.

No. He meant that these types of anger should not be allowed to DESCEND into a spiral of dejected resentment. There is nothing productive about this kind of displeasure. Nothing will change if we allow apathy to grow and rot within us.

Sometimes, yes, you look at all the things above, and it can be overwhelming. You see more absurd politicians banning women from serving lunch in the Hague, you see another rapist walking free and then to top it off your (male) friend dismisses women-only taster sessions at the campus gym as grossly sexist because ‘it’s not fair, you can’t ban me from the gym just because I’ve got a dick’- once again bringing everything back to the astonishing fact than men have penises. The natural response is to order a large pizza, run back to your hovel and lament at the god-damn institutionalized patriarchy and how everything is shit and will always be shit.

But, to do this is to ignore and undermine everything that feminists (that’s you too!) have changed for the better, and will change for the better in the future. It is okay to sometimes feel dejected and overwhelmed by the general world shiteness, but in the battle towards the deconstruction of the patriarchy, to give up is to let it win.

So, the rest of this post is going to be devoted to a few things that I’ve seen in just the past week that reflect the tanglible good work and progress that feminism is making across the world and hopefully re-jig a bit of motivational joy and sunshine.

First of all, although all of the articles that follow have a positive stream, I will just state a trigger warning for anyone affected by FGM.
Since I’ve been at university, FGM has been a matter of increasing relevance and interest. Before the new year, no one talked about FGM, there had been no prosecutions in the UK since it had been made illegal in 1985, and Doctors and teachers were woefully unprepared and uninformed to spot and deal with cases in their vicinity.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/feb/25/michael-gove-schools-female-genital-mutilation

In February, thanks to the change.org petition begun by Fahma Mohamed, Micheal Gove pledged to write to and help prepare headteachers to deal with FGM in schools.

http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/mar/21/fgm-female-genital-mutilation-men-charged

Then, one month later, the first convictions for those guilty of committing FGM in the UK were charged and sentenced. Such events, though slow in coming, mark the beginning of the end to this abuse of human rights and culture. After reading these articles, I spotted something even more positive:

http://www.standard.co.uk/news/london/the-woman-who-is-inspiring-africans-to-turn-against-female-genital-mutilation-8623492.html

The work of this woman and others like her, such as Dr Phoebe Abe, show how change can happen, even when something seems so awful, and so entrenched, that even making a chip on the surface of it can seem impossible.
(Follow this link for an insight into Dr Phoebe Abe’s extraordinary work- making a difference when no one else would http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/news/uk/crime/article3985708.ece)

The next article is from one of my favourite blogs feministwednesday.com, and again it shows in a very different that just when you think change cannot even be approached (have that one male ‘feminist’ friend in mind) is when the biggest differences happen.
http://feministwednesday.com/why-i-was-wrong-about-feminism/

This article is a couple of years old now, but I’ve put it in because I remember reading about this when the definition changed, and thinking it was incredible. I’d never thought of domestic violence in terms of emotional abuse though it seems obvious now, and I reckon that many women experiencing domestic violence hadn’t either, but now they have

So it’s half one in the morning and this turned out a little longer than I’d planned, hence the many linkages rather than erudite descriptions and reviews, but I hope all this lovely info has resulted in inspiration and motivation, and dispelled any lingering dejection that likes to accumulate on a Thursday afternoon when the weekend still seems far away. When you consider the sheer scale and scope of the institutionalized patriarchy, and consider just how many faucets of life it trickles it’s noxious blue glue into, it can seem overwhelmingly unfair, and unchangeable. But I think these articles (and the multitudes of blogs, twitters, and youtube channels that so many inspirational feminists run) show how, even when something seems immovable, change, if it’s wanted enough, is always possible.

Yay for feminism!

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You could literally spend years studying time and how we measure it. Like, even the things that we think are of as ancient and everlasting are not. Even rocks. The oldest rock on Earth, found in the Canadian Shied is 4.031 ± 0.003 GA, one GA is a billion years, so that rock is over 4 billion years old. The oldest rock ever found on the surface of the earth is dated at 4.6 billion years old, and it comes from the moon. These are rocks from before our planet even formed. Galaxies and planets would have been and gone before our planet was even round. The oldest Galaxy that we have spotted is 30 bn light years away, and is 13.1 bn years old. THINK of the civilizations that may have evolved in that expanse of time! 
   The oldest religions surviving on earth are Vedic Brahmanism (which emerged into Hinduism) and Judaism (which is pretty much the same).  Judaism can be traced to the Bronze Age, when God told Abraham to be a father of the people who were to be special to God, Vedic religion’s origins are so obscure and ancient that it cannot be traced back to one person or moment in time. I don’t understand the origins of religion and the relationship between ancient civilizations and the Bible. Why would God have waited until the Bronze Age to introduce himself to his Creation? Would he have created the Neolithic man and the other versions of pre-historic man first? What came first Eden or the Neanderthal? Where did Adam and Eve go before Homo-sapiens developed? Or are these pre-man species simply part of the animal Kingdom, and by the time Adam and Eve had the Fall they had just…. disappeared?? Why would God have allowed pre-historic notions of religion and sun-gods and animal-spirits to these obviously sentient beings? I don’t know anything about the origin of man and religion in the East, but I don’t know how you can look at two ancient, persevering, major world religions side by side, knowing that they were a product of human emotional and physical development, and say that one is the correct description of man and the other is not. 
Whenever I begin to doubt my atheistic perspective I remember how traceable religious ideas are. I remember that the Bible is a book, and it can be interpreted. Almost every statement has a reason that it was written, every attitude a purpose, every word a very human author. When we read a work of fiction, we can question the author’s motive for writing it. Is it rhetoric? Catharsis? Are they trying to persuade us to think a certain way or is this a personal exploration of a theme? The Bible was written and complied by men for the preservation of Christianity and as propaganda to encourage the destruction of paganism and pagan values, or any other religion it encountered. It’s aim is to make the reader feel safe in the face of a dangerous natural world by providing answers about where we came from and where we are going. Until I read a sentence which cannot be interpreted in that way I can never see myself having a faith. Why is the statement that Jesus is the Son of God and he sacrificed himself for our sins a more reliable sentence than ‘do not have sex outside of marriage’ and ‘don’t trade in temples’ (paraphrasing here) when they are all written in the same book?? 
These ideas of God, Humanity, Heaven whatever are so small, there is something so much bigger and it is time, and eventually all these ideas will be swallowed up in it along with everything that we have ever said, thought, or made.