Feminist Friday in 2018

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In 2016 I started my Feminist Friday series and I’ve so pleased with where it is and where it’s going. I’ve had some wonderful guest posts from women and men about Feminism and what it means to them. But this is just the start.

In 2018 my aim is to make Feminist Fridays even bigger, getting more of you writing about your experiences and what feminism means to you. It doesn’t matter how old you are if you are male or female, what you identify as I want to hear from you and give a platform for people from all walks of life to talk about feminism in their life.

So, my wonderful readers, I need you! I need your thoughts and stories. You can write about anything and if you want to get involved but don’t know where to start, that’s fine I even have prompts!

I also wanted to share some of the wonderful guest posts from 2017 so a big thank you to…

Jess Wade

That Marketing Punk

Lou Sarabadzic

Charlotte Selby 

Jess Wilby

These are just some of the incredible examples that I’ve had in the past year and I’m so grateful for each and every word that they have put together.

Feminism is a key part of our future, particularly after the year that we’ve had in the world. Women are speaking out and making their voices heard, something which can only make the world a better place.

If you, or anyone you know, would like to be a part of Feminist Fridays in 2018 I’d love to hear from you! Email chloefmetzger@gmail.com or comment below with your details, ideas and any other information! I’d love to discuss your ideas and talk about what feminism means to you!

Thank you for a wonderful 2017 and here’s to a fabulous, feminist 2018!

Feminist Friday: Westminster

Last week we saw a scandal in Westminster, one that unfortunately wasn’t at all surprising. UK Defence Secretary resigned amid allegations of sexual assault, following this an avalanche of accusations from all parties in UK politics. While Downing Street called the accusations ‘deeply concerning’, leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn addressed the ‘warped and degrading culture’. No one outwardly said, we have a problem and it’s been swept under the rug.

In the past year, sexual assault has been in the media particularly in the face of powerful figures. With the recent Hollywood conversation more and women and men are coming forward to share their stories about the abuse they had to deal with. In light of this, I believe that ultimately, we’re going to see more and more people coming forward because this isn’t an anomaly.

Recently, comedian Jo Brand hit the nail on the head as the only woman on the panel of Have I Got News For You when she said;

 “If I could only say that as the only representative of the female gender here today, I know it’s not high level but it doesn’t have to be high level for women to feel under siege in somewhere like the House of Commons. And actually for women, if you’re constantly being harassed even in a small way, that builds up and that wears you down,”

And that is exactly what needs to be said. If, in the place that our laws are made and passed a woman feels unsafe, what hope is there for the rest of the country? Personally, I’m grateful for these women that are reporting and standing up to powerful people because it makes people recognise a problem that has, I’m sure, been happening for years.

I’m hoping that this is the start of change. That the voices that are speaking out and finally starting to be heard can break down the protection of those in power, in regards to sexual violence and assault.

As always, I want to hear from you and your thoughts! Let me know in the comments below!

Feminist Friday with… Jess Wade

As a part of my Feminist Friday series, I’ve been asking lovely bloggers and writers to write about Feminism and what it means to them. Today, the wonderful Jess from makingphysicsfun speaks about Inferior by Angela Saini, women and science. So, over to Jess. 

Did you, like me, read the Google memo this summer and role your eyes? Or perhaps look up the new Nikon D850, and be confronted with an ad campaign that consisted of a wall of 28 men. Maybe you picked up the Time’s Education Supplement (Sept 2017) to read boys were “better at physics” because they pee in urinals? Or waited for the announcement of the 2017 House of Commons Science & Tech Select Committee with naïve optimism, thinking it might continue the women-dominated glory 2015 – 17, to find out it was (you guessed it!) … all men. Every single time I get tired of talking about the need for more women in science – well, physics and engineering specifically – a new scandal makes part of me think I have to try again. But the rest of me is thinking – maybe they are right? Maybe women really are crap at photography. Maybe I am worse at physics than the boys in my group because of how I go to the toilet? Maybe women are bad at technology because we don’t have enough testosterone? I don’t say this out loud much, I wouldn’t want to let the side down!… but these miserable thoughts echo around my head every time I have to stand on stage.

And then, I was asked by Physics World to review a copy of Inferior by Angela Saini. Angela Saini is an Oxford-trained engineer who has had a phenomenal career in popular science writing and journalism. In 2009 she was named the European Science Journalist of the Year by the Euroscience Foundation and three years later won the Association of British Science Writers’ award for best news story. That year she became Knight Science Journalism Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 2015 she won the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Kavli Science Journalism gold award for a BBC documentary into bogus universities.

When Saini was investigating the science of the menopause for a Guardian article, she discovered that there is very little scientific literature explaining the biological mechanisms that caused it. She realised that everyone takes it for granted that research will be fair and unbiased; that experiments will be ethical and that the results will be reproducible. But what if the people who wrote the rules of science were biased themselves? Saini’s ground-breaking second book, “Inferior”, uncovers how science has gotten plenty of women wrong, often due to the biases of the people and processes involved in research. An advocate for equality and honesty within scientific discourse, Inferior does not set out to prove that men are sexist scientists- it highlights stories where assumptions, poorly designed experiments and hasty press releases have failed 51 % of the population. She is a phenomenal journalist determinedly persistent in untangling the evidence from both sides to present pure fact – her bibliography is 29 pages long with 306 distinct articles and books covering the gamut of evolutionary psychology to anthropology. Inferior has it all: from understanding bluebirds to babies, shouting at dodgy f-MRI studies and picking apart the lazy stereotypes that prevent women entering science and technology careers. Reading Inferior has given me my voice back… and I am going to short very loudly.

You can catch Angela Saini on her UK university tour or at a local event. You can buy Inferior here.

Angela has written a comprehensive response to the now infamous Google memo, which you can read here.

 

Bio: Jess is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Physics and Centre for Plastic Electronics at Imperial College London, creating chiral molecular structures as the active layer for electronic devices. Jess has been involved in projects to support gender inclusion in science, as well as encouraging more young people to study science and engineering. She won the Institute of Physics (IOP) Early Career Communicator Prize (2015), “I’m a Scientist, Get Me Out of Here!” (2015), the IOP Jocelyn Bell Burnell Award (2016), the IOM3’s ‘Robert Perrin Award’ (2017) and the Imperial College Dame Julia Higgins Certificate (2017). She sits on the committees of the IOP’s Women in Physics Group, Communicators Group and London & South East Branch. She is also on the council of the Women’s Engineering Society (WES) and Women in Science & Engineering (WISE) Young Women’s Board.

If you’d like to write for Feminist Friday please get in contact, I’d love to hear from you! Email chloefmetzger@gmail.com. 

Standing with victims of assault

This week the news has been focused on the allegations against Hollywood bigshot Harvey Weinstein, with scores of women coming forward to state that he has sexually assaulted, or in some cases, raped them. While the sheer amount of women coming forward is shocking, what was more so was the reaction of people around the world shaming the victims.

There was a variety of reasons why these women were set upon, claims that they had ‘waited too long’, that they were ‘asking for it’ or wanting attention. Some questioned whether these women were telling the truth. There was something missing, however, the trauma these women will have gone through and the outrage at Weinstein.

The fact that, yet again, women speaking out have come under fire when they have faced assault, to me, shows why we need feminism still in modern society. Rather than believe that these women have encountered a sexual predator. Their stories match up again and again. A young actress invited to a meeting about their career by a powerful man at a hotel, lead to his room where he attempted to get sexual favours or assaulted them.

With names such as Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, Cara Delevigne and Gwyneth Paltrow all speaking about their own encounters we should be celebrating them for speaking out. Assault is incredibly difficult for a person to overcome and as these women speak out, and many more as the days pass, we shouldn’t be shaming them.

Unfortunately, we may never know the extent of this. This was a blatant act of using power to cause fear in young women. Knowing he was an incredibly successful figure, Weinstein, appeared to see himself as untouchable and able to treat these young women as he liked. At the time of writing, he is not working and has checked into a rehab centre. I’m hoping that in the coming weeks a police investigation will take things further.

If this case highlighted anything at all it’s that we need to think about the way we treat victims when they speak out. Instead of instantly questioning and trying to guess if they are guilty or not or if they ‘just want attention’. To imagine what they have gone through and the courage it must take to go to the police. We need to stand with victims of assault, and not to forget men can be victims too, and show them that they can speak out without fear or judgement.

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.

 

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.