"You can be an ultra fashionable, single, successful Sex and the City auntie, just like me!"
Just as the vacuum cleaner became ubiquitously known as t
"You can be an ultra fashionable, single, successful Sex and the City auntie, just like me!"
Just as the vacuum cleaner became ubiquitously known as the Hoover, being an aunt has been (unsuccessfully) rebranded as The Savvy Auntie, or The PANK (Professional Aunt, No Kids).
So many ridiculous and superfluous made up acronyms and names for everything surrounding aunties. Why not call a spade, a spade? Why the advice about how aunties can get pregnant? And I really don't need to waste time and money to formally celebrate becoming an aunt. It's supposed to be all about the baby and the parents, not about me. Me, me, me!
Rich and successful single women are the target audience for this book, ladies who'll be valued for the gifts, outings and trust funds they can provide. Of course, love and attention are touched on too, but there's far too much emphasis on emptying one's pockets to supply the little ones in your life with everything they could possibly need or enjoy, despite the warning on spoiling them.
Skimming was necessary to finish. Useful nuggets of information and advice appear infrequently, buried in pages and pages of filler written in that overly positive American vernacular, popular in sales pitches, that I personally despise.
Savvy Auntie isn't nearly as fun as it pretends to be. Don't waste your money, visit the website instead....more
For the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the aboveFor the first time ever I like a Neil Gaiman novel. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you.
It wasn't until I came across a Guardian article with the above image that I decided to give Gaiman a another chance. I mean, how bad could a feminist retelling of Sleeping Beauty be? Besides, the library had a copy so only an investment of time would be required.
A post-curse Snow White is a warrior queen about to get married to a seemingly inferior and submissive man she does not love. When the dwarfs report that the Sleeping Beauty curse is spreading rapidly into Snow White's lands she jumps at the chance to leave and attempt to break it despite the many princes and knights who've died trying over the years.
It's only when she and the dwarfs arrive at the castle that Gaiman's story really sets itself apart from other fairy tales and their retellings. Zombie-like sleepwalkers bent on killing. An elderly (and tragic) lady guardian and a Sleeping Beauty who aren't what you expect. A chaste kiss between Snow White and Sleeping Beauty to break the curse. And an ending which didn't feel quite right.
Instead of returning home, Snow White runs away from her royal responsibilities and her groom to travel with the dwarfs. Why not return home and refuse to marry? And abdicate the throne, if she really doesn't want to be queen? That takes more strength than running.
Everything I've read by Gaiman (his children's books) have received no more than two stars. Though he has intriguing ideas, his execution of them is poor, rarely gripping, and written in too few pages to do them justice. Bland characters I felt little for, one way or the other, is another common complaint. But yes, I had similar issues with The Sleeper and the Spindle. They weren't as pronounced this time. It's the unexpected and feminist twists that really sets this one apart. Black, white and gold illustrations were also positives I enjoyed. ...more
Bad Feminist is an anthology of witty and confessional essays mixing personal experience; opinions on race, politics, media, gender and sexuality; andBad Feminist is an anthology of witty and confessional essays mixing personal experience; opinions on race, politics, media, gender and sexuality; and reviews of books, TV and film - sometimes all in the same essay. Roxane Gay lays out what it is to be a feminist. That there's no such thing as a 'perfect' one. Being human precludes us from perfection. We're complex creatures. We can enjoy something even if we don't agree with the ideas behind them. That's the very definition of cognitive dissonance.
...feminism is flawed because it is a movement powered by people and people are inherently flawed. For whatever reason, we hold feminism to an unreasonable standard where the movement must be everything we want and must always make the best choices. When feminism falls short of our expectations, we decide the problem is with feminism rather than with the flawed people who act in the name of the movement.
I know I'm a bad feminist. My guilty pleasures include the Charlie editions of the misogynist Two and a Half Men. I adore Seven Brides for Seven Brothers despite the sexist view of the role of women, the multiple kidnappings of women, the Stockholm Syndrome, and the shotgun weddings. BUT there's pretty dresses, lovely songs, and acrobatic, synchronized dancing.
I openly embrace the label of bad feminist. I do so because I am flawed and human. I am not terribly well versed in feminist history. I am not as well read in key feminist texts as I would like to be. I have certain . . . interests and personality traits and opinions that may not fall in line with mainstream feminism , but I am still a feminist . I cannot tell you how freeing it has been to accept this about myself.
Like Gay, I enjoy fairy tales. I like happy endings. Despite the suffocatingly strict gender roles they like to fit girls into. Paranormal and historical romances are modern adult fairy tales filled with overbearing alpha males. They stalk and harass their potential mates who always accept and marry these, what in real life we'd call, sexist jerks. And most of the time, I love them anyway - just like their brides.
I know, I should hang my head in shame.
Over the Christmas break I came across a Q&A with Gay. I read each of the linked articles. All of them were good, but it was the heartwrenching Things I Know About Fairy Tales that spurred me to move Bad Feminist to the top of my 2015 TBR pile. Strangely this essay is missing from the book. Knowing its contents increased the value of her opinion on certain subjects and gave me valuable insight into what drives Gay. I admire her for sharing the most intimate details of the worst experiences of her life and admitting what most would never say.
We're all at least a little racist, she says. It's true. For whatever reason. Even if we're not aware of it.
Gay's mentoring of black university students was a sad reminder of the effect of internalized racism on motivation, on ambition. They lacked the drive to achieve more than what they perceive is expected of them, until Gay badgered them to do better. An exhausting undertaking to nag multiple people to greatness.
Quite a bit of my enjoyment in reading Bad Feminist was derived from sharing similar opinions and experiences, of surviving what life has thrown at us while not letting it diminish us. Although I didn't always agree or understand everything she discusses.
Towards the end, cultural differences proved a barrier to grasping certain subjects. As a Brit, Tyler Perry means nothing to me. It turns out I've only seen him in Alex Cross although some of Gay's criticisms concerning the themes he regular uses bore out in that film. The repealing of reproductive rights is another issue about which I'm appalled by, but once again I found myself asking:
America's problem with white men regularly shooting young black men is yet another a subject I'm not particularly familiar with. Sure, the UK's had some serious issues with institutional racism, like the police's handling of the 1993 racially motivated murder of Stephen Lawrence. Last year it was revealed the police had been by spying on Lawrence's family looking for dirt instead of hunting for the killers.
Bad Feminist is an emotional rollercoaster of emotion. From laughing, to indignation, poignancy, anger and even WTH. That foray into the world of Scrabble tournaments and its idiosyncratic competitors was a tangent I wasn't expecting, but enjoyable nonetheless.
Gay doesn't pull punches. She's a tattooed professor who likes to swear, loves to play Scrabble and doesn't suffer fools while still managing to seem open, honest and approachable. You don't come across someone like that everyday.
Bad Feminist is my first foray into black feminism, and it won't be my last.
Mindful of the fact Gay dislikes trigger warnings, I won't add any. And by mentioning them, I realize I've implied there are some. Oops....more
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Tw
Laura Bates brings issues of harassment, assault and abuse of both men and women to light, after being deluged with submissions to her website and Twitter accounts. Seemingly small incidents of off-hand remarks can feel like the death of a thousand cuts when they happen everyday in every facet of your life. These sexist ouccrences happen so often and are so insidious and pervasive in Western society that they've become normalised to the point we feel silly for being upset about instances others brush off and disheartened when our complaints are ignored. All of this undermines confidence and erodes self-esteem. Even if we don't realise it, we've all witnessed sexism - on the street, in the media, at school and work, and now online with social media and comment forums. As Bates says, 'Enough is enough'.
Sexism is more socially acceptable than racism. Misogyny and misandry. Men get their own chapter but instances of misandry are sprinkled throughout. Bates doesn't just focus on the stereotypical, she points out that women can rape men, women can rape other women, and that men can be feminists.
Huh. Reading your post, I realise now that I experienced sexual harassment at 18 in my first office job - I've never thought of it as being that before. He was a 40-year-old client who publicly harassed me in front of my colleagues. I had no idea what to do because he was also a friend of my boss and almost everyday he would come in for an hour after he'd finished work, every time hitting on me and trying to shame me into submission because I was so young and inexperienced - I'd yet to have a proper boyfriend. This went on for months until my only female colleague told the boss, and suddenly the man didn't come in as much. I didn't tell any friends or family because I found it deeply embarrassing that I couldn't handle it.
As a result, I changed my behaviour towards men, practically fearful of them for years afterwards; making as little eye contact as possible in case I was encouraging any of them, and always making sure I wasn't showing flesh or wearing too much make-up. But I'd still attract the creepers. I look very young for my age - as in not legal - and every now and then an older man will approach me. The worst was when I was in the YA section of the library (I get approached there alot so I don't go in much now) where a man said he wanted to be "my friend". I had Pippi Longstocking-style plaits/braids at the time and was wearing teenage clothes precisely to deter attention.
But that's not all.
Age 12, holidaying in the Seychelles, a native reaches out to touch my left breast "They're coming in nicely," she says. Age 18, Freshers Week at uni saw a guy banging on my dorm room door for ten minutes shouting that my room used to be his and he wanted to see inside again. I didn't open the door. Age 19, being followed around a clothing store then out into the street. Quick thinking had me walk into the well-staffed John Lewis which he refused to enter, instead waiting for me outside. I left via another exit. Age 21, interviewed by a lecherous man who couldn't take his eyes off my chest. Was offered the job immediately. Despite the huge increase in salary and intriguing career-making job description, I turned it down.
Then there are the occasions when a man asks "where's that smile?" or "smile, might never happen" which somehow gave rise to 'bitchy resting face' which only appears to affect women. Hmm.
Sadly, as the majority of the perpetrators of the incidents that left the biggest impressions on me have been Pakistani and seemingly African immigrants (I live in a town with large communities of both), I'm wary of men from similar backgrounds.
83 per cent of Egyptian women report experiencing sexual harassment in the street. Egyptian Center for Women's Rights, 2008
More like 100%. I visited Sharm El-Sheik in November 2008. Worst. holiday. ever. I needed another holiday to get over the stress of that one. The Lonely Planet Egypt guide dedicated just a couple of sentences in the safety section on the street harassment of women so naively I believed it wouldn't be a problem. Nothing prepared me for what I experienced. I've very briefly talked about this before.
I travelled there with only my sister while in our early 20s. Big mistake. We were harassed every day. We didn't even have to leave our hotel room to witness it. We saw it from our balconies. Men clustered around the pool and the massage tables openly staring at women. Men calling after us in the street, trying to get us to follow them down dark alleys in that creepily cliched way we were warned of as children. They took every chance to touch us, to compliment us, to grill us about our marital status. A wedding ring or a husband standing by your side didn't necessarily protect you. (I was surprised the husbands tolerated the blatant disrespect of their wives, I kept hoping the offenders would receive a bloody nose or a black eye.)
I received multiple marriage proposals, me more so than my sister, we reasoned that was because she was gobby while I was quiet and observant, constantly looking out for grabby hands and other dangers. As for assault, my sister's breasts were manhandled. She tried to let it roll off her but I could tell it was starting to get to her. We decided to abandon our plans to visit Cairo and the pyramids - too risky. Would I ever go back? No. I don't want to feel like I need intimidating bodyguards to feel safe walking down the street or relaxing on the beach. No wonder native women didn't leave the house, the one or two I did see wore stiflingly hot burkas.
For awhile now I've held the belief that our deeply ingrained gendered stereotypes beaten into us as children and reinforced by society at large, are the main contributor to society's inability to accept the transgendered. Gender should be a matter of biology alone with none of the additional spurious and unequal social expectations, that if not met, leaves those 'failures' vulnerable to public disapproval and condemnation.
This is my new top 5 of non-fiction feminist reads:
Okay, so Everyday Sexism took me 3 weeks to read it because I had to pause for a mental swig of spirits every now and then when the rage overcame me, but I can assure you this is a 5-star read that I recommend to all.
Kira Cochrane provides an excellent introduction to feminism with this concise and up-to-date history covering the last 100 years in this 70-page exteKira Cochrane provides an excellent introduction to feminism with this concise and up-to-date history covering the last 100 years in this 70-page extended essay. She discusses rape culture, online feminism - including an intriguing David and Goliath battle with Facebook (I cheered at the outcome), the huge impact humour makes in highlighting feminist issues, and the importance of intersectionality and inclusion of all demographics as feminism is for everyone not just white, middle class women.
In the process, Cochrane refers to some very interesting organisations, projects and movements along the way. (Some of the names will make you smile):