Dear fellow feminist,
Thank you so much for contacting me! I always appreciate it when a woman reaches out to me, and especially when they’re of the feminist persuasion.
It’s difficult to know where to start, so perhaps we can start with a Wikipedia article on feminism. It’ll give you a whole bunch of names to google. These names contributed towards the feminism that’s both loved, and reviled. The feminism that finally taught South African legislators, back in 1993, that rape can occur in the marital bed.
The feminism that women fought for by striking, starving themselves, and by enduring torture.
I’ll try to explain how I see feminism throughout this post, and what things I wish were in the malestream (not a typo, btw!).
For me, the one very most important bit to remember is that feminism isn’t a popularity contest. It’s also not about men. Nor is it a movement that aims to solve the world’s problems. We’re not your superfeminists, nor are we into equality for equality’s sake. And it’s a pity we sometimes forget it’s a movement for women, by women, to, as bell hooks says, end women’s oppression (pdf). We need a feminist public service announcement every now and again.
The other very tremendously important bit to know is that feminism has many flavours. There’s ecofeminism, anarcha-feminism, socialist feminism, libertarian feminism, funfeminism. Some of them have an analysis of how women came to be The Second Sex; some do not.
I consider myself a radical feminism because I stand in solidarity with the radicals who say our oppression comes from men as a class who oppress women as a class. My feminism looks at how the patriarchy influences our lives, in the subtle, and not so subtle, ways.
And my feminism will overanalyse everything, or it will be bullshit! If the following were a Facebook comment, I’d quote it and, underneath it, write “THIS!!!!^^^”
– Megan Murphy
I tried writing a something about the sexual offences act a while back. And I see the very same problem throughout the rest of our Western(ised) society: the cult of the individual. It’s every-fucking-where. Even in feminism. Especially in feminism.
People’s reluctance to criticise the personal, is problematic. And it’s sad that we’ve forgotten the very existence of the most famous feminist slogan — ”the personal is political”. People say being a SAHM isn’t problematic for the sisterhood. Funny, that. Is it OK that women do something, every day, for at least 20 years, with no pay? With no unemployment benefits? With no healthcare benefits? And with no retirement fund?
The other problem in liberalism is the insistence on autonomy and choice. ”My body, my choice” is one such flavour. Yes, I get it that abortion is a hard-won right, but we need to erase the need to have abortion. We need to make it superfluous. We also need to stop pr0n and prostitution, aka pay-per-rape.
“The language of choice has come to dominate discussion of women’s rights so much that it is in danger of losing its purpose. I find the language of choice around abortion patronising. I don’t want laws that protect my right to have absolute freedom to do whatever I choose with my body. I want autonomy.”
– Bonnie Johnson
And we need to realise that all our actions have repurcussions, even abortion, especially abortion. And perhaps, just perhaps, our 2nd-wave foresisters were correct about abortion –some said it’s a women-hating practise.
“I don’t think that either contraception or abortion is the ‘solution’ to women’s reproductive rights even though I fully support women’s right to access free, safe and legal contraception and abortion.”
– Gorgon Poisons
I want to touch on something else very briefly: Mary Daly urges us that we need to be ”naming the agent”.
“Naming the agent is required for an adequate analysis of atrocities.”
– Mary Daly in Quintessence
The term patriarchy is in danger of becoming an obscure term. All it really means is ”the rule of the father”. And yet we’re reluctant to use it. We’re so reluctant to use it, that we invented a new word to take its place, thanks to, I think, postmodernist writers. The new word is ”kyriarchy”, which obscures the agent, ie men.
”Domestic violence” is another term we need to GTFO of our feminism; we need to talk about ”MALE violence against women”. bell hooks does a fine job of talking about the ”white supremacist capitalist patriarchy”. I, myself, have used it a couple of times and it makes me feel kriewelrig (1) when I use it! I’m guessing it’s because it takes a while to acclimatise to ”naming the agent”.
This is where I’ll stop for now. The next post will be about penis-in-vagina sex, among others. It’ll talk about femininity, and why it harms women. And I’ll try to touch a bit on how systems of oppression work.
We need to stop this pigshit (1) right now. Who told y’all that feminism aims to ”end racism and ableism and and and”? When did this happen? When did we decide women (it’s always women, isn’t it?) have to clean up everyone else’s mess? I never got the memo, btw.
The countless Facebook feminist pages? Page admins who post pictures that claim ”It’s just as hard to be Ken as to be Barbie”? And the author of The Skeptical Feminist, who says
“No feminist whose concern for women stems from a concern for justice in general can ever legitimately allow her only interest to be the advantage of women.”
– Janet Radcliffe Richards
Or bell hooks who says
“..the struggle to end sexist oppression that focuses on destroying the cultural basis for such domination strengthens other liberation struggles. Individuals who fight for the eradication of sexism without struggles to end racism or classism undermine their own efforts. Individuals who fight for the eradication of racism or classism while supporting sexist oppression are helping to maintain the cultural basis of all forms of group oppression.”
– bell hooks
See, I get it. I get that individual women face many different types of oppressions. But there’s one thing we all have in common — oppression based on our sex. Based on what’s happening between our legs. There’s no shame in saying this.
The current idea floating around is that the category ”woman” doesn’t exist. That ”sex” is not as cut and dry as many people think it is. And they’re right — there are more sexes than the two we learn about. But the patriarchy only recognises two sexes: female and male. And it oppress women because we are women.
And now I want you to get this: the sisterhood needs to protect itself against the oppressor, and against people who collaborate with the oppressor, unwittingly or not. We CAN revoke your feminist card and your membership to the sisterhood. We should do it when you do not live your feminism. When you only ”do” feminism as a means to an end — abortion and free access to safe birth control, for example. Or to gain entry into male-dominated spheres. And then forget about your sisterwitches.
We should also revoke your membership if we hear What About The Menz comments, such as the ones that the incredibly popular ”I need feminism because” meme perpetuates. Too many of the posters say shit like “I need feminism because I can’t relate to women who don’t see themselves as my equal, and I can’t relate to men who don’t understand why this is important to me.”
Yes, feminism benefits men in some ways, but that’s not why men should be feminists. Men should be feminists because they want women’s oppression to end.
Feminism has a core with which you need to agree before I and other feminists recognise you as one of us. This is similar to Christianity, which says that Jesus Christ is God. And that Christians need to accept that tenent to enter the kingdom of heaven.
Feminism’s core idea is, in the words of bell hooks, to end women’s oppression (pdf). Some of us go further in trying to figure out where, how, when the rift occured, or whether it’s always been there. But the core matters. It gives us cohesiveness.
Sisterwitches (2), we need to get selfish. We need to take what’s ours. This is not a defense of Objectivism, a la Ayn Rand. No. This is a call to action. We can’t wait for our oppressors to give it to us. And we need to identify the people who are trying to work against us. Assata Shakur said it so well.
“Nobody in the world, nobody in history, has ever gotten their freedom by appealing to the moral sense of the people who were oppressing them.”
And we need to focus on the reason *why* we do feminism. Not get distracted by trying to solve everyone else’s problems. We also need to remember, and honour, our sisterwitches . And our foresisterwitches. To draw strength from them, from their struggles to make this world a better place.
We need to sing their praises, so that their memories can inspire others.
And seriously, men will lose their privilege post-patriarchy. So it’s up to us to wrest it from them. Because there’s no way that they will willingly give up their right to pr0n-on-tap, or prostitution, or PIV sex on demand.
This is about us, and our needs. And, while quite an extreme view, I agree with what the New York Radical Women said
We ask not if something is ‘reformist,’ ‘radical,’ ‘revolutionary,’ or ‘moral.’ We ask: is it good for women or bad for women?
1) I use pigshit because a pig can be any sex, but a bull is always male
2) Sonia Johnson created sisterwitch by combining ‘sister’, a more egalitarian feminist relationship, and ‘witch’, which meant female power.
Once upon a time, a young woman dated a young man. The two were happily browsing in the Kloof Street Exclusive Books when he said how much he likes that particular bookstore. She asked him why and he said it’s because they’ve got the best selection of books, especially ones on sociology.
Fast-forward one or two years and we find the same woman having a conversation with someone about Exclusive Books. The unnamed person says something about Exclusive Books in general and the young woman says that, by Jove! the Exclusive Books in Kloof Street has a superb collection of books.
The unnamed person asks her why she says this and…she doesn’t have an answer. She can’t tell the unnamed person it’s her then boyfriend’s opinion. That’d be an embarrassing thing to do. So she quickly changes the conversation by shouting “Look! There’s a bright shiny thing behind you!’
I was that young woman circa 2009. That was when I realised to not ever adopt someone else’s opinion on something. Unless, of course, the opinion is evidence-based AND it’s something I find to be true.
It’s been serving me pretty well but I often encounter others who still think it’s an OK thing to do. To present an opinion without giving a reason why it’s a good one to hold. They present these opinions mostly in blog comments and in Facebook group threads. Those are the two places where I tend to have most of my debates.
I once blogged about how we shouldn’t have low expectations of the masses. And I still think (I have evidence-based reasons, I promise) that we should expect more of ’normal’ people. These people influence our live: they sit on school boards, they’re our employers, they’re store owners. And their choices and reasons for doing things can mean that we live a good life or it can mean that we feel forced to seek asylum in a country that won’t prosecute queers.
Remember, democracy is based on the appeal to majority fallacy: we do what the majority wants. So if the majority of the people around you want to prosecute queers, then that’s what’s going to happen. And no amount of reasoning with them will prevent this if they don’t base their opinions on sound, rational, evidence-based facts.
The conversations I have won’t directly influence which president people will vote for. Nor will those conversations decide whether to provide free ARVs to poor people. But it’s still important to be intellectually rigorous and to base an opinion on facts. To ask ‘why?’ and to probe deeper, to find the answer. To not just say that the MyCiti buses are safer than trains, but to ask *why* that is. Or to ask *why* censorship is a bad thing.
And to live a life that harms no-one.
So feel free to try this next time: ask someone ‘why do you say that?’ This might surprise them: few of us question others’ opinions; we accept it as their ‘worldview’ and we forget that this ‘worldview’ doesn’t happen in a vacuum, free of outside influences.
I’m starting to get frustrated with feminists who think that, as long as they ‘choose’ to wear high heels, it’s OK. Who think that, as long as they ‘choose’ to be a SAHM, it’s OK. Who think that, as long as they ‘choose’ to iron their partner’s shirts, it’s OK.
It isn’t OK.
Well, let me rephrase: it’s OK and yet, it isn’t helping women on a bigger scale. It isn’t problematic to individual women and yet it contributes to women being and remaining the sex caste.
Many feminists are familiar with the idea that our choices do not occur in a vacuum. This is feminism 101, something you pick up when you start reading feministy blogs and forums. All the choices we make are illusions. There’s a reason why we do things. There’s a reason why I chose to wear the dress I’m wearing right now: it’s pwetty! It ‘flatters’ my ‘womanly’ figure. And people compliment me on it. I love it so much that I sometimes wear it twice a week.
There’s also a reason why I’m wearing the shoes I’m wearing: it’s pwetty! The receptionist at works loves it. It’s also mostly comfortable.
So it’s dishonest to say that wearing high heels is a feminist act when it comes with so many rewards. It’s dishonest to say that showing cleavage, as I’m doing today, is a feminist act. And it’s dishonest to think that presenting as femme, as I’m doing today, is a feminist act.
I’m taking up very little space right now because the dress I’m wearing is forcing me to sit with closed legs. My handbag is on the ground for all to see. I’m sitting with my feet together. My hair is blow-dried and is bra-length. I look like a ‘womanly woman’, one who would be nurturing and passive and charming.
The rest of the people in the coffee shop would never guess I’m a radical feminist. They’d never guess with how much passion I can debate. They’d never guess that I only shave my armpits on special occasions. Worse, still, I’m not giving any of the women here the idea that it’d be OK to present as butch.
I’m not doing much to overthrow the kyriarchy today. Besides writing this blog post. ‘Cause you see, I’m conforming, whether it’s my ‘choice’ or not. There’s a certain way that society wants me to look and I’m going along. I’m not disturbing anyone’s idea of what a woman should look like. I am reaping the rewards of the kyriarchy. Why? Well, the kyriarchy has a wonderful loyalty programme with plenty of rewards: beneficial treatment, compliments and many more. The other reason is because I’ve been socialised to present as feminine. And there are probably also tons of other reasons why I go along, reasons that I might not even know of.
I own that. I own my ‘choices’. And I am aware that presenting as a femme is not going to overthrow the kyriarchy. Whether I’m OK with that is a different matter.
I just wish more feminists would realise that everything they do contributes towards everything else, even, *especially* the kyriarchy.
And that radical feminists, as far as I’m aware, aren’t judging the women who go along with the kyriarchy. We judge their choices, as much as we judge our own. We’re not saying women/feminists *should* or shouldn’t do something; we’re saying that many of the things we do are problematic. That’s the difference.
I got the idea for this list from a very similar list that people in the sceptic community often refer to – What do I do next? Much of what I’ll be covering will be PR-related – it’s all about making a good impression. But we also need to educate on why feminism is still relevant. This list is still quite random right now. Perhaps we can work on dividing it into categories over the next couple of weeks?
I remember reading an interview with someone once and she said that she isn’t a feminist — she doesn’t go to rallies. That got me thinking. Was she joking? Or was she serious?
Do people think you need to protest to be a feminist?
Here’s my list of 100 Feminist activism ideas that are SO not set in stone and that SO does not center around rallies. Being a feminist activist is much easier than it looks like: you just need to start voicing an opinion.
1. Befriend a girl
Girls need to interact with women who aren’t related to them. And girls need role models. Even better if these role models identify as feminist.
2. Befriend an older woman
We can be mentors to young ‘uns but old ‘uns can also mentor us. Find someone in your community or through your business contacts and reach out to them.
3. Talk to an anti-feminist
The easy part is that you’ll find anti-feminists everywhere. The difficult part is in not alienating them. Reach out to them to find out what worries them about feminism. Fear is powerful.
4. Replace Wikipedia’s androcentric language with gender neutral language
The best part about this is that it’s so easy to do. Replace ‘he’ with ‘they’; replace ‘his’ with ‘theirs’; replace ‘him’ with ‘them’.
5. Write letters to editors and sub-editors about their language policy
Writers’ job is to inform and educate but they do sometimes get things wrong – ‘ombudsman’ instead of ‘ombud’; ‘spokesman’ instead of ‘spokesperson’. Ask the relevant people what their take on this is and whether they’d consider changing it to better reflect our changing times.
6. Support female sports teams, especially ones that are outside of school or university.
How much support do these teams get? Get a bunch of your friends, foes and family members together and go cheer them on!
7. Tell people that you’re not “one of the guys”
Why do some consider it the highest compliment when someone tells them ‘Oh, I think of you as one of the guys’?
8. Call yourself a feminist
And leave out the ‘but’. Let’s stop the misinformation, subjugation and the hesitation surrounding feminism; let’s call ourselves feminists and reclaim the word as best as we can.
9. Pay your employees/freelancers a decent wage/salary
10. Promote women where possible
There’s no need to exaggerate accomplishments but try to gush about women you know: their goals, their determination, their spirit, their everything.
11. Ask a woman’s opinion
Make someone feel special by asking her for her opinion. Especially a woman who normally keeps quiet during discussions. And then really listen to her.
12. Explain why ‘bitch’, ‘you guys’ and ‘slut’ are problematic
It isn’t everyone who gets why this is a problem. Some will say that we should tackle ‘bigger’ problems or that we should pick our battles. But who’s going to take care of the ‘little problems’?
13. Support pro-choice clinics
You can do this even if you are sure that you’ll never have an abortion. Pro-choice says it all — we should be able to have the right to choose and not have someone else make our decisions.
14. Support rape council clinics
Rape Crisis is doing an amazing job so please support them. You can support them financially or by volunteering.
15. Talk to your partner about feminism
Explain to your partner how sexism affects you in your daily life. Explain the impact of advertising, of jokes, of people’s attitudes, etc.
16. Ask people to explain sexist/racist/homophobic jokes that they tell you
This might make them see the joke in a different light. But doing this often might brand you as a kill-joy…
17. Learn to cook
Let’s reclaim cooking and baking as activities that feminists can do. We’re not feminists of a lesser kind for cooking; we need to eat and take-aways are expensive.
18. Learn to negotiate
How else are you going to get that promotion or payrise? Are you hoping that someone’s gonna notice your enthusiasm? It might not ever happen so learn to be your own agent.
19. Take photos of women and put them on the internet
Progressive website designers will thank you because it’s really quite difficult to find photos of women that aren’t sexualised, in a domestic situation or ‘fun’.
20. Don’t pick your battles
Who’s going to take care of the ‘little foxes that ruin the vineyard’ if all of us are picking our battles? The little things remind us of our place in the heirarchy so perhaps we should spend even more time on dismantling them.
21. Ask women to speak at your next event
Even better, ask many women to speak at your next event. Make sure that the event is as diverse as your audience or community.
22. Befriend a boy
Boys also need to interact with women who aren’t related to them. And they especially need role models. Even better if these role models identify as feminist.
23. Befriend a man
Perhaps if boys are friendly with women who aren’t related to them, they’ll grow up to become men who have friends with women who aren’t related to them. This will be a big change from our current situation with many people thinking that women and men can’t be friends.
24. Chair something
Especially if the thought scares you. Other people will see that a woman is the chair of something and slowly they might become more positive about women in business/civil society, etc.
25. Attend rallies
This used to be the mark of a ‘true’ feminist. But we still need rallies – there are tons of issues that concern the greater good.
Or write. About anything, everything and everyone. Write from a feminist viewpoint; write from a ‘regular’ viewpoint. But get your story out there.
27. Guest blog
We should call guest blogging Blogging Squared. Or something. Because guest blogging compounds the size of our audience to the power of 5698, especially if a large and well-known (feminist) blog publishes your work.
28. Improve your public speaking skills
Hey, I’m biased. I belong to Talking Heads toastmasters and I’m loving it.
This means that soon you’ll be jet-setting around the world to talk about issues that women face. Not? OK, then. This means you’ll find it easy to tell your friends or colleagues why they should give feminism a chance. And that’s perhaps one of the best reasons to give public speaking a chance.
29. Help to make your religion women-friendly
Some feminists balk about this — they insist that religion is inherently sexist; other feminists reckon that we can change our religions for the better because we can infuse religion with good or bad. Let’s hope we infuse it with good.
30. Learn about how your government works and contribute
Find out where they need more information, education and resuscitation. Contribute. Rinse and repeat a few times.
31. Take good care of yourself
Activists especially need to take good care of themselves so that they don’t burn out. Smell the roses sometime and have fun while you’re trying to change the world.
32. Be a BFF
Be part of one person’s support-system. We all need someone like that.
33. Sharpen your critical thinking skills
Pair your critical thinking skills with a dash of the scientific method for the best effect. This will help you to avoid many scams and it will also help you to ward off illogicalness, especially illogicalness pertaining to sex and gender.
34. Sharpen your debating skills
You’ll need good debating skills if you wish to lobby your government on behalf of feminist organisations. But you’ll also need good debating skills if you want to persuade someone that feminism is the right choice.
35. Make art that challenges and pushes against the boundaries we’ve created
Art can change opinions. Screenplays, novels and music have helped to topple governments. So just imagine what it can do for feminism.
36. Support women in business
Yes, I get that we have to support small business owners. I do. But we especially need to support sisters who are doing it for themselves. They are standing on their own two feet and ringing on their own bells. So we’ve all heard the statistics of women business owners struggling to get financing. Even more than men business owners struggle. Let’s support these women who are coming out of the kitchen.
With apologies to the Eurythmics.
37. Attend lectures, talks by women for women
You’ll contribute towards the ticket fee, sure, but you’ll also help improve women speakers’ visibility. If more people attend shows, lectures and talks by women then we are working towards eliminating some of the negative perceptions surrounding women speakers — organisers of these shows will see that people want to listen to women talk!
38. Try to apply the Bechdel Test to the media you consume
Try to find books, movies and plays that have at least two female characters who talk to each other about something other than a man. It’s the most basic feminist litmus test for media ever. It says nothing about the quality of the dialogue, though – they could be talking about shoes.
Doubt isn’t a negative trait. Doubt has tremendous power to make us think.
40. Forgive your mother
Do you still carry some anger towards your mother? Forgive her if it’s possible. Or forgive your sister/aunt/cousin, etc.
41. Surround yourself with feminists…and dissenters
Create your own cheerleading squad of feminists and temper them with a sprinkling of dissenters. Do this so that you always get a jolt back to the ‘real’ world.
42. Become familiar with feminist theory
Just a bit so that your understanding of the issues that we face deepens.
43. Show your excitement
It might rub off on someone.
44. Challenge convictions, jokes, and values
It begins with asking ‘Why?’ We can change our opinions on things and perhaps you can be the catalyst for social change.
45. Write your story: it all forms part of something bigger than ourselves – ‘’Herstory’’
We shouldn’t let 50% of our history evade us. And remember, women comprise 50% of the population. So we have to write down our own histories because chances are that no-one else will do it for us.
46. Be bold
Have you ever noticed that your boldness gives someone else license to also be bold? Try it out next time you’re facing an empty dance floor. Start dancing and next thing you know everyone else is also dancing. It’s a sad truth that we first seek validation. So be brightly bold and lead the way for people to live the way you do.
47. Challenge stereotypes and generalisations
Not all Nigerians are drug dealers; not all women are bad drivers; and not all men are incompetent at cleaning.
48. Advocate for a better public transportation system
Some will argue that transportation is a feminist concern. Perhaps. Perhaps not. But surely it’s a problem that so many people, especially women, have to endure gruelling taxi rides? So yes, we have to reform the taxi industry but we also need alternatives. Public transport is one of them; bicycles, feet and other two-wheeled vehicles can be the other great alternatives.
49. Watch television. And keep the media on the straight and narrow.
How will we know which ads are offensive if we don’t watch television? How will we know which television show needs to get training on gender issues? And how wil we know which production company is getting it right if we don’t watch television or listen to the radio?
50. Don’t take yourself too seriously
Laugh a little. No, wait. Laugh a lot. Life’s fun and some scientists reckon that life as a feminist can be satisfying to an extreme degree.
51. Develop, polish, and refine your elevator pitch
Your feminist elevator pitch might be the only one that the person you’re talking to hears.
52. Learn to rebut ‘’surely there are bigger problems?’’
There will always be bigger problems. People are raping and killing other people. People are mutilating other people. Those are massive problems. But the ‘little’ problems are also damaging. They destroy our self-worth by reminding us where we ‘belong’ — in the kitchen. So let’s learn how to answer a question that assumes we aren’t also working very hard at eliminating the big problems.
53. Talk feminism at unexpected times in unexpected venues
Talking feminism can be as light or as deep and thoughtful as you want it to be. Both can be effective but it’ll depend on your mood, your audience and the context. This will hopefully impress upon people that everyone benefits from dismantling sexism. And emphasise that the little things can make a massive difference.
54. Be assertive
Other people will respect your boundaries only when you enforce them. You’ll be a role model to other girls and women when they see that people take you seriously. You know what you want, how you want it, in what size, and in what colour. And that is pretty amazing.
55. Learn from other activist organisations
We’re all doing the same thing, really — trying to win other people over to our cause. The environmental lobby, the animal rights lobby, the feminist lobby, we’re all trying to improve the world. So we can — and should — learn from each other. What works, what doesn’t work, and how to improve our organisations.
56. Create female protagonists
OK, I understand. You’re not a writer. But you tell jokes. You create ads for corporates. You write newspaper articles. You’re a creative creator of sorts. So create a joke that centers around a woman. Create an ad that has a woman in an active position. And write newspaper or magazine stories that centers around women.
57. Remind yourself and others why we’re doing this
We’re human. We forget. We need to remember what things were like before we got certain freedoms. What it was like before we could vote; what it was like before we could own property; what it was like before we could become astronauts. Because only then will we remember why we fought so hard for those freedoms and then ‘they’ will struggle much harder to take those freedoms away from us next time around.
58. Move beyond the ‘’equal pay’’ argument: equal social treatment is the next frontier
Many people only recognise the financial and legislative side of feminism. But what about the social side? Is chivalry really a good idea? Why do drop-down menus and radio buttons list ‘Mr’ first? And why do South African men have to get permission from the Director General if they wish to change their surname? OK, so the last one has to do with legislation but this is as much a societal problem — the assumption that men shouldn’t and do not want to change their surname.
59. Make someone uncomfortable
OK, I know this sounds awful. We’re nice people, after all. But even nice people push boundaries. Be the asker of uncomfortable questions. Stir things up. Have some fun
60. Nominate a feminist organisation in your will
Feminist organisations also need money and this is one of the ways in which you can make a difference even after your death.
61. Keep your maiden surname or take your wife’s surname
At least strongly consider this. There are alternatives to what everyone else is doing: the husband can take the wife’s surname; you can create a new surname; use a double-barrelled surname, etc.
62. Advocate for better childcare facilities
How many women find it difficult to attend lectures, conferences, and other events? Would they be able to attend if there were better childcare facilities?
63. Write to your favourite women’s magazine and ask them to change their content in favour of women
It’s amazing that not even women’s magazines have much content that is women-friendly. There’s too much negativity about our bodies in the magaines that we read, perhaps partly because of consumerism but also because of our obsession with youth.
64. Write to your favourite women’s magazine and ask them to reconsider the use of photoshop
65. Praise magazines that do not use photoshop and that feature positive articles
Magazines need to know when they’re doing something right so praise them when possible.
66. Buy the pants/skirt/shirt that fits
Ill-fitting clothes are uncomfortable. And, if clothing stores know that size 14 women do exist, perhaps we’ll start seeing better designs for fat women. Because, honestly, if you squeeze yourself into a size 10 instead of the proper size 14, they’ll start to think that size 14 is a four-letter word.
67. Use eco-friendly menstrual products
I am a big advocate of eco-friendly menstrual products such as the menstrual cup and reusable pads. These products save you money – they’re a once-off buy; they prevent landfills from filling up as quickly; and there are some who argue that they’re healthier than bleached tampons and pads.
68. For the love of chocolate, stop using ‘chick-lit’ to describe the novels that women write
Men write novels so why do we say that women write chick-lit? Why differentiate between male and female work?
69. Call out victim-blaming
These views are so prevalent that they’re actually the norm in many circles. A questioning attitude might be the best approach.
70. Don’t tell rape jokes
Why do we laugh at rape jokes, anyway? I don’t know but I know there are too many people who’ve been raped and who have had to undergo extensive counselling that I would be laughing at their suffering, even though it isn’t directly.
71. Involve the police whenever you’re aware of violence or the threat of violence
It’s never a ‘domestic issue’; it’s a societal issue. And we all need to work together to reclaim our society. Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu
72. Hold the door open for a boy or a man.
I am glad to report that I’m having plenty of luck with this these days. I ‘apologise’ by telling them that I’m trying to be lady-like. We both laugh.
73. Use ‘she/he’ or ‘women and men’
Why does the male term always appear before the female term? Language isn’t fixed; we can change language to better reflect our reality. So do it.
74. Stop passing as male, white, straight, young, etc
You know what? I need to stop passing as an English-speaking middle class person… because I’m not. So embrace being a woman. Embrace your femininity and everything else about you.
75. Play with your language by talking about nonblacks
You’ll see how some people might appear shocked; other people might laugh and others might even challenge you on your use of that word. Most of us don’t even realise that there are alternatives to the phrases we use. So just do it.
76. Scrutinise the laws in your area and lobby your government representative to change them
What do the laws say about gay adoption? Or about keeping your ‘maiden’ surname? How about paternity leave?
77. Support sexual education initiatives
We’re lucky that we live in a country with one of the best constitutions in the world. But unfortunately, many rural women will never get the proper sex education that some of us take for granted. Get involved in initiatives that reach out to them — and also to women in your own communities. Married and older women, for example, are an oft-overlooked group — we often don’t realise that they are as vulnerable to myths surrounding AIDS and HIV.
78. Get involved in community policing forums
Doing so will help to make the community a safer place for all but especially for women and girls.
79. Reclaim public spaces
Guerrilla gardening is one such method. Park(ing) Day is another. Not all will agree that we need to reclaim public spaces but this is a great topic for discussion.
80. Create a rape myth-buster
Let’s especially help to curtail the ‘she was asking for it’ myth. And the ‘I’m too hot and sexy to rape anyone’ myth. And the ‘did she scream loudly enough?’ myth
81. Support feminist organisations
You can support them in any way you can. Are you a journalist? Perhaps you can ask their opinion on issues that affect women. Support them with money or other non-monetary donations. But the most sustainable option for many of us will probably be volunteering our time and skills in any way.
82. Wear This is what a feminist looks like T-shirts and other feminist items
And please send us pictures!
83. Link out. To people whose arguments advance feminism. To organisations that support feminism.
Linking is the life-blood of the internet. It is through linking that we learn about alternative viewpoints. So please link to this article!
84. Review feminist podcasts on iTunes
Reviewing podcasts pushes them higher up the iTunes ladder so that more people end up seeing it.
85. Contribute to the growing list of movies at Bechdeltest.com
The website lists movies that have to have at least two women in it who talk to each other about something besides a man. So have fun watching the movies you watch and then add them to the database.
86. Arrange screenings of films that feminists may find interesting and challenging
Do this at your local school, church or community hall. Perhaps even where you work. Expand the list of topics to the green movement, to social justice, to analysis of the government. And invite as many women as possible but make sure you have enough daycare help.
87. Arrange a tweetup, meetup, TedxWomen conference
Feminists can meet other feminists in this way. Ask everyone to bring a friend and perhaps some snacks too. Feminists gotta eat, you know?
88. Let your politicians know that you appreciate their efforts around feminism
They’ll surely appreciate knowing about a job well done.
89. Leave feminist literature wherever you go.
Book-Crossing also springs to mind here. These do not need to be explicit feminist material; The Color Purple also counts.
90. Use feminist buttons, bumper-stickers and screensavers
Make your passion visible. You can buy these items from CafePress or some other shop that stocks feminist things.
91. Ask your library to stock women-friendly books.
Also donate some of the books you no longer need to them. You’ll help to introduce people to ideas they might otherwise never encounter.
92. Talk about this to schools, churches or other people in your community
Go where you’ll find people — school, church and work are the three places where you’ll find most people.
93. Put a feminist banner on your blog
This tackles a couple of issues – it raises awareness of feminism and it also helps the feminist blogs that create them to rank higher in the search engines.
94. Join Twitter, Facebook, Google+ groups that talk about feminism.
And please help to dispel any misconceptions surrounding feminism.
95. Create a Youtube account and speak to a wider audience
Your Youtube account might reach someone who lives in an uber-conservative society and you might be their one link to the feminist community. If a feminist only makes a difference in one life, did she make a difference at all?
96. Create a podcast and put it on iTunes
Get a bunch of your favourite people together, add some podcast software and start discussing what feminism means to you. Try to look at it from all viewpoints by including at least one person who disagrees with you. But try to find someone who is still thoughtful about their dissent.
97. Create a feminist writing contest at local schools
PR is a great thing, innit? Perhaps your favourite feminist magazine or organisation can sponsor a prize for the young ‘uns.
98. Write an ‘Ask a feminist’ column in your favourite magazine or newspaper
Make the offer. Someone, somewhere will take up your offer.
99. Read anti-feminist material
You have to know what you’re fighting against…
Please help: I have a little problem, which is actually far bigger than it sounds. I notice it whenever I’m reading something, whether it is online or offline, in the ‘real’ world. It matters not whether I’m reading the NY Review of books or Jezebel; I encounter the same problem every time.
Let’s say that I’m reading an article about X. The article describes someone but doesn’t mention gender or race. My first reaction to such an article is to — subconsciously — think that the subject is a white man. So there’s nothing wrong with white men, I promise, but can you imagine just how surprised — never mind angry at myself — I am when I discover the subject is actually a black lesbian?
So I want to know how to overcome this. What do I do?
It aint easy being single on St Hallmark’s Day and somehow, over the years, I’ve nearly always been exactly that. So I’m going to be different and write a love letter to myself.
I love that you are not afraid or ashamed to love, no matter whether it is reciprocated. It takes you months, sometimes years, to say those three words but that is not what really matters. What matters is that you love.
Your laugh is absolutely crazy and I adore you for that. Rock on, sista. Don’t ever tone it down for anyone, no matter who they are. So what if it gets you evil looks from across the room at places such as The One & Only? Who cares?
What really amazes me is the way you can handle a compliment. That’s rare. Few people accept a compliment with as much grace as you. Thank you for giving people, even hot guys who compliment you, the benefit of the doubt
I feel safe with you. I know that you only want the very best for us. Not to mention your obsession with finding ways of improving our relationship — silent retreats, weekly check-in sessions, stealth hugs. Thanks for that.
And finally, you’ve grown so much as a person since I came to know you. It’s been fun to watch you progress from that silly 23-year-old (no offense, 23-year-old Joy-Mari) to the 28-year-old of today. Here’s to another 100 years together. OK, fine, another 90 years together should do the trick.
The ad started off funnily enough with some dudes talking about the type of person they want to meet. But then it got scary — the ouens looked too much like 28s.
A couple of thoughts: the white guys look like nice, decent and thoughtful potential partners. They look like someone I can meet on Dating SA. The black guys, however, are your stereotypical gangsters and thugs.
But that’s not my biggest problem with this Brandhouse ad; my biggest problem is that it seems to be condoning jail rape, which we all know is a big problem in South African prisons.
Here’s what Chris Roper says about the ad. And yes, I absolutely agree with him:
There’s no appeal to our civic sense, to our desire to do the right thing, to our awareness of how driving drunk can hurt others. No, what we’re selling is how driving drunk can hurt YOU.
The other thing that is problematic is that prison is already a punishment. Do we really want people to be afraid of being raped inside the place that is supposed to punish them for their behaviour? I realise that it is a reality; I realise that rape inside prisons happen. But what I do not condone is the attempt by Brandhouse to make light of it. “It’s ridiculous and reinforces the stereotypical image that people in prison are inherently bad and can’t be rehabilitated. That is deeply concerning,” – Lorenzo Wakefield at the Community Law Centre.
The one good thing about this campaign is the breathalyser machines inside drinking holes such as Mr Pickwicks in Long Street. I actually saw one there recently. Pop in a R5 coin and you can analyse your breath to find out whether you’re still within your 0,05 g per 100ml of blood.
The only thing that’s going to stop drunken driving is by making it socially unacceptable. Similar to how we’ve made it socially unacceptable to go without applying deodorant or how we’ve made women feel uncomfortable about their armpit hair. But the big difference is that this will actually save lives.
Question: Would we condone this ad if they used the threat of rape against women? If not, why is it OK to use it against men?
Ah, this brings back the fondest memories of Christmas mornings with the parentals, grandparents, and cousins. Gelukkige Kersfees, Feliz Natal, Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnacht, Feliz Navidad, Hyvää joulua, Joyeux Noël, Buon Natale, God Jul, Merii Kurisumasu!
There are activists doing a hell of a lot out there. They blog, tweet, march, and volunteer their time in other ways. I’ve been thinking of a way that I can contribute. It eventually hit me: armpit hair! ‘Showcase’ women’s armpit hair so that it can become normalised! Not sure whether I used exclamation marks when I thought about it, though.
So this is what I want to do. I want to collect pictures of your armpit hair. No, I’m not some kind of pervert. And no, you don’t need to show your face. I’m making a couple of assumptions here: that you grow armpit hair and that you’re a woman.
Please send all photos to firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s get this revolution started.