Feminist Friday With… Lou Sarabadzic

For tonight’s Feminist Friday guest post Lou Sarabadzic, a blogger and all around awesome lady, speaks about growing up as a Feminist.

I realised I was a feminist as a child. I must have been 11 or 12, tops. I obviously didn’t know what it meant. I only started wondering about it because almost as soon as I voiced a clear opinion (or heard another girl/woman voice an opinion), however trivial – a terrified grown-up would ask me the question: ‘But you’re not a feminist, right?’ Has there not been such an offended, derisive and reproachful tone in their question, I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought. But people (friends, family, strangers, virtually everyone) sounded so offended that I MIGHT be a feminist, that I MIGHT want to like or defend another woman, that I thought: wait… what does that actually mean?

I asked people. Many people. Mostly grown-ups and teenagers. I read magazines aimed at women. Then I took a dictionary. And the difference between people’s definition and the dictionary’s one was so unbelievably big I wondered if I got the spelling right… I was being told by pretty much everyone that feminists were extreme, violent, aggressive, old-fashioned, ugly and unlovable. And in the dictionary, it just said that it was just a case of defending women’s rights, because for so long, they hadn’t been the same as the men’s (still are not, but it didn’t say…).

My feminism is deeply rooted in anger, and there’s no way I’ll hide that, or try to sugar-coat it. I’m so angry at everything the world sends our way. I’m outraged everyday by what is normalised. I hate that this oppression is everywhere I go, in whatever situation. I hate even more that I am expected to apologise for not liking it, sometimes even asked to be thankful for it. It still pains me to realise each time that I am the one who needs to explain myself for feeling outraged by unequal treatment and obvious violence. Surely, you can’t ignore the shit women have to experience all over the world every freaking day, can you?

I’m in the position of an extremely privileged feminist. I’m white, middle-class, I went to University. I was able to spend years working on rhetoric, studying gender and language/literature to be ready to discuss relevant topics. So many women are not lucky enough to make that choice. In addition, so many women face even more prejudice and experience the most disgusting discrimination because they don’t conform in one way or another: not white enough, not Western enough, not wealthy enough, not straight enough, not sexualised enough, not Cis enough, not female enough…

 I’m convinced as a feminist that intersectionality should be an absolute priority: we need to hear and empower people, not make decisions in their names and patronise them. There are many ways to support intersectionality. As a bookworm, reading is my way of spreading thoughts and ideas: I post excerpts of books I read on Twitter and Facebook. Many of these books are openly feminist. It’s essential that many are from under-represented writers: ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA*, disabled authors… When people say: ‘how could I encourage intersectionality myself? I’m not in power, nor a manager or a journalist, you know!’, I say: well, as privileged human beings we both are, I know a simple, free option: go to the library and borrow books to hear voices we don’t usually hear. Read blogs, articles, I don’t know. Whatever you want to do: read, listen, share.

I strongly believe that feminism is necessary to both individual and collective survival. And we’re not done fighting. So I guess, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it, we should all be feminists.

Thank you so much, Lou, for this brilliant post. If you’d like to be a part of Feminist Fridays please contact me on chloefmetzger@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you! 

Feminist Friday with … Charlotte Selby

Why I Need Feminism

This is a guest post by Charlotte Selby, a YA Writer, Book Blogger and Booktuber. Charlotte has requested the following trigger warnings to be in place; Sexual Abuse, Anxiety, and Depression.

Living alone in my second year of University was a bad idea. I was in my own company a lot and my anxiety was at the highest it had been; I was yet to get a diagnosis. I was struggling to leave my flat to see my therapist, never mind going to classes. I hadn’t established a strong enough relationship with the friends I’d made where I felt I could confide in them about my problems. Then someone came along. For the purposes of this post, we’ll call them Ash.

They got me. They knew when to listen to my problems and when to give advice. I became dependent; messaging them when I thought I might relapse, begging them to come over. When they kissed me, I felt it was a turning point: someone wanted me even though they’d seen how broken I was. My previous partner broke up with me because I wouldn’t sleep with them so I wanted to take my time before losing my virginity. Ash respected that. My friend warned me and our friendship became strained. She didn’t understand. Ash was good for me.

After a bad relapse, Ash came to the rescue and took me to their flat. I didn’t want to be alone for fear of how much further I would go. After I calmed down, Ash kissed me. I said no but they became icy after. Later they tried again and I said no. We had already slept together at this point, but this time was different. This time I didn’t want it. But they were so persistent that, in the end, I let them.

“Come on, it’ll take your mind off things.”

I told them I didn’t want to see them anymore after that (outside of class obligations). When I confided in a friend about what had happened, she had her I did warn you moment and explained the concept of consent to me. I felt foolish.

Flash to final year and it all came out. There were six other girls at the same time as me all with similar stories. We didn’t go to the police. We didn’t tell the university. We all knew we’d be blamed until we dropped it. One day when a society I was part of hosted a bake sale on campus. Ash showed up. The boyfriend of one of the other girls came and attacked Ash. He’d learned his girlfriend was one of the many victims. He screamed “manipulator”, “sexual abuser” and “rapist.” I was called out too. “How dare you stand when they did that to you. You’re just as bad as them. You could have helped people.” In the drama of it all, I don’t think anyone noticed I’d been outed; there were a select few who knew the names of the people involved, he just happened to know mine.

What happened with Ash had a big impact on my next relationship – which started during second year and we’re still together now. One night when we were messing around one night, he jokingly said: “come on you know you want to.” When I worked up the courage to tell him about Ash, I expected a breakup. We didn’t and we’re still together now, but it took a long time to fully trust him. Even now if I’m not in the mood for being intimate I feel an overwhelming sense of guilt, like I’m letting him down in some way.

Ash didn’t go to graduation. They weren’t missed.
I wish I could say I felt free when I cut them out. But I don’t. While I’m in a much better place mentally now but I’m easily shaken. I often think of “what ifs.” What if I’d stood up for myself? What if I’d spoken out sooner?

I need feminism because had there been more support for women, if there had been a safe place we could have gone to report it, if there was less stigma around sexual abuse, maybe Ash wouldn’t be out there right now. Living their life, probably never thinking about what they did to all those girls.

I speak out now. I shut down negative discussions about sexual assault/ abuse and rape. I challenge harmful views. I don’t want people to have to go through what I did and then blame themselves after. I am a feminist.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And by god, I am stronger now.

Thank you so much to Charlotte for this post, it’s such an important yet hard topic to discuss. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

 

Book Review: Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls – Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo

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It’s well known that there are a lot of kick ass ladies in history who aren’t taught about or who are looked over. It’s also well known that little girls need people to look up to. So, let me introduce you to a book that covers both of these things. A book that has been raved about online, and I completely understand why.

I just need to say I absolutely adore this book and want to give it to every little girl I know and plan to always have a copy in my home.  Although this is aimed at children I learned so much from it about women I’d never even heard of and I feel like I should have.  There is also great diversity in this book women from across the world with many different achievements, backgrounds, and goals are included.

I did see some complaints online that there wasn’t enough to the stories or they didn’t give that much info but we need to remember that some of these stories didn’t play out so well and this is aimed at children. To me, this was more of a snapshot, I imagine if a little girl, or boy, found someone really cool from this book they might look into them more or ask questions. That’s one of the most beautiful things about this book, it invites thinking and questions and intelligence.

Each woman chosen has their own unique portrait alongside the piece about them and they are stunning. Illustrated in different styles and colours no two looks the same. Additionally, there is a quote from every woman within the illustration to really sum them up as a person, which was a really nice touch.

If you haven’t guessed already, I gave this five stars. I’m in love with it, I would recommend it to absolutely EVERYONE because I honestly think there’s something for everyone to learn from it. There are all these amazing women from all over the world who have done incredible things for humanity, it’s about time they are all celebrated and that’s exactly what this book does.

 

Feminist Friday: Every Day Feminism

If you’ve read Laura Bate’s wonderful book Every Day Sexism, you’ll agree that while it’s a brilliant read, it can also be quite overwhelming. I sat for quite a while thinking about what I wanted to write about this week, before putting it to a vote. After last weeks incredible guest post by Jess, I was struggling. The whole point of Feminist Friday and the guest posts within it is to share stories, experiences and unite feminists which lead me to question if we are grateful enough each day for the small battles won and recognise our privilege?

 

Although here in the UK, where I’m writing, we still have a long way to go, we have a lot of privileges that other women around the world don’t have. I get up in the morning, choose my clothes and get in my own car before driving to work to earn my own money. All of those steps are things that most of us will take for granted on a daily basis. While we may encounter misogyny and sexism in regards to what we wear or in the work place, generally we do have laws to protect us, which isn’t the case for many women.

While it’s important to call out sexism, to write blog posts, go on marches it’s also important to stop and be grateful for small things that we have that others might not. I don’t know about you, but stopping once a day to just be grateful for an aspect of my life that I can thank the feminists before me for, isn’t something I do often. We focus on what we still need to do, which is great. At the same time, there have been some AMAZING women before us who have paved the way for us to be able to continue fighting. In realising this we can combat the idea of superficial feminism, we can be grateful for what we have, while also working so that all women around the world can have the same.

So, I thought I’d share my own list of things I’m grateful to be able to do/have thanks to the brilliant women who came before me.

I am educated, other girls were not able to enjoy an education.

I am free to love who I like, other women cannot.

I can earn my own money, other women are tied to men.

I can speak up and make my voice heard, while others are threatened with death for doing so.

I have access to women’s health services, while many are not.

I am grateful.

 

What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Feminist Friday with… Jess Willby

Feminism is… Listening to other women

This is a guest post by Jess Wilby, a Manchester based lifestyle blogger who writes for philocalist.co.uk.

My only brief is write about what feminism means to you.” This was my only guidance from Chloe and it really got me thinking. The commute home isn’t one that usually inspires me. Believe me, the wet armpit of another commuter certainly isn’t my regular muse. But as I made my way, trapped on a hot & sticky Metrolink carriage, I thought about all the ways I’d been wronged as a woman. Being paid less, because I am a woman. Being cat called in the street, because I am a woman. Travelling in fear that someone might grope me during the commuter rush because I am a woman.

But really, that’s just me in my little bubble. Feminism is about that – but also, it’s about something much bigger. Feminism to me is actually more about knowing what it means to you.

We all live within our own parameters. Try as we might, we will never be able to truly understand what it’s like to live someone else’s life. Empathy is one thing, but I mean truly understanding. That’s why the modern day feminist will never quite have all the answers and actually, our greatest tool is listening to someone else and letting them tell their own story.

There is power in silence; in the ability to shut the fuck up for a moment and stop banging on about your own personal brand of girl power.

The task of achieving absolute gender equality is almost unfathomable but you’re not going to achieve anything if you only exclusively focus on your own goals. Self-care is dope but contrary to popular belief we’re not just out here spinning on a space rock for our own personal development, you know?

It’s time we stopped excusing our ignorance and instead actively seek out varying experiences of womanhood. The internet might be a big place, but it’s not hard to find and share stories from women living a life different to your own.

Whether it’s Grace Victory talking to you about the lack of diversity in blogging, Stephanie Yeboah telling you how black fat women matter too or Ali Catrin explaining what it’s like to live with Autism, we need to take their words on board and celebrate their voice. Devour every word and pass it on, champion them for speaking out.

By listening and sharing these stories, you are empowering the women who truly need to hear them. The girls who feel alone; who are in the same position, needing someone to look up to. I’ll say it again, there’s power in listening to these experiences. You don’t need to put your own spin on it, we only need to take these women at their word.

Believing, listening, sharing – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t experienced the issues yourself, you can still be part of the domino effect. Not only will your own mindset start to change by exposing yourself to new ideas, so will those around you. Suddenly women who previously may not have been willing to share their voice feel empowered to do so because they know there are people who will listen.

And so – if like me – you ever find yourself armpit-deep on a sweaty, commuter-packed Metrolink take a moment to think about how the other women around you are feeling in that moment. What story do they have to tell and would you be there to listen?

 

Thank you so much to Jessica for this post, I completely agree. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

Feminist Friday: Support a woman in STEM!

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To me, women supporting women is a huge part of feminism and today I’m enlisting your help. I met Chloe while we were both students at Kingston as a friend of a friend. She’s done amazingly well and now she’s in a competition to win a £5000 scholarship towards her Master’s degree. So, let’s get to know Chloe.

What is it that you study? 

Undergrad: Forensic Science

Masters: Will be doing Bioarchaeological and Forensic Anthropology

What do you love about studying?

I have found a subject that interests me and I truly enjoy learning about. I love studying it and finding more out about the subject because I am passionate about it and would like continue studying to specialise and hopefully work in the area of science that I love so much.

Did you always know you wanted to go into Forensic Science?

Forensic Science was definitely not something I always thought about. After finishing my GCSE’s I was actually a bit lost with what I wanted to do. I was stuck between going into Art or Science, but at the time was never really told enough about careers in science to really want to do anything. After a year of mixed AS levels, I found my college offered the Forensic Science BTEC. It sounded so interesting to me and I was still so unsure of what I wanted to do that I just decided to go for it. Since then I never looked back and have wanted to continue studying it after all that time.

Do you think we can do more to help get women into STEM?

As I said before, when I was in school trying to decide what to do as a career, I don’t feel I was ever really told about the different options and amount of jobs in STEM. Therefore the subjects didn’t really interest me because I didn’t know where they could take me. It was pretty much by accident that I ended up in a science subject. I think women need to be shown early on what they could do and the jobs out there in STEM. We also need to lose the idea that men do better than women in these areas and stop women feeling like computer sciences or engineering are men’s jobs. So I guess awareness is the main thing, to show more women there’s plenty of room for them in these fields. As for Forensic Science, I am happy to say, at least from my experience, there are plenty of women in this area, and at university level I have been encouraged by all my lecturers, both men and women, to go further with my studies.

So, how can you help? All you need to do is click here, click vote and that’s that!

Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget I’m looking for guest bloggers to write about what feminism means to them! To put yourself forward email me at chloefmetzger@gmail.com!

Feminist Friday: Blac Chyna and revenge porn.

All over social media for the past week, the latest feud between Blac Chyna and Rob Kardashian has been appearing. This time, however, it’s taken a nasty and illegal turn. Rob Kardashian has posted explicit photos of his ex and mother of his child all over the internet, while also posting her phone number. The reason? Not that it’s at all an excuse, Kardashian claims that she sent these images to make him jealous and show that she was with someone else. Yep.

As this story unfolded I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Now, I’ll admit that watching Keeping Up With The Kardashians is one of my guilty pleasures and quite a few times their relationship has been shown to be problematic. What disturbed me, however, was the response online after this. People were jeering at Chyna, judging and laughing at the pictures as well as sharing them. Many didn’t see them for what they were, revenge in one of the worst way.

I couldn’t help but think about their daughter, less than a year old. She’s going to grow up knowing that her Dad publicly humiliated her Mother. Let’s call it what it is, she’s been slut-shamed. She has been publicly humiliated by someone by showing her body. Whether or not you like her, this is disgusting on Kardashian’s part. This is a woman he claimed to love, a businesswoman, a mother how or why he got those images isn’t the point. This is a blatant misogynistic attack. The fact that this was shared by him after his own sister had an intimate tape leaked is beyond me.

When these sorts of cases come to light it’s easy to ignore and to judge based on the past. A lot of people are justifying this because Chyna was previously a stripper, which is just wrong. Even the law see’s this as wrong, Kardashian now has a restraining order against him for the time being while the investigation continues. Some may

Some may wonder why I’m even looking at that this on my blog. Why the lives of some super rich reality stars and what does that have to do with feminism? Because she’s a woman that has been shamed for her sexuality due to jealousy. This happens to so many women and it doesn’t make the news because they’re not famous. It’s an issue for women and this has brought it into the spotlight again. Revenge porn and slut shaming are a problem. But we can fight against it. We can report these images, we can give support to women who are the victims and demand harsher penalties for those who post them.

We can stand with women and not against them.