Some thoughts on #womenagainstfeminism

I recently found out about this via BBC news. My first thoughts were: frown, what?, hmm okay, No. I call myself a feminist yet at the same time refrain from doing so because of the social stigma that comes with it and trends such as this one. On one hand, being a feminist gives me a community of women to relate to, share experiences with. On the other hand, it makes me wonder about the message I’m sending out, what I’m fighting for, and whether these issues are actually issues. However, a hashtag of women against feminism instantly makes me align myself with the feminists. Because it’s one thing not calling yourself a feminist, and another being against feminism. It is disappointing, because this is another example of women vs women, still competing and slandering and completely missing the message entirely.

After looking around a bit on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr, I understood where some of the women were coming from. i.e. the deconstruction of family life, the extreme anti-men agendas. No, being a housewife by choice and having a loving family does not make you weak. No, asking a guy to open a jar or carry something heavy for you instantly does not make you a ‘weak’ woman. Yes, these attitudes as this towards other women are definitely toxic and belittling.

But we still need feminism when 200 Nigerian girls are kidnapped because Western education is a sin. When women are expected to be housewives or perform certain ‘gender roles’ without a choice. When still, in current day, girls as young as 14 are sold into marriage and childbearing, prohibited from learning any other skill or pathway because ‘they will have no use for it’. When I see descriptions of tablets made for women who aren’t inclined to family life and children, to make them more so. When FGM still exists in our society and has crippling effects on its victims. When women are labelled as ‘mad’ or ‘crazy’ for speaking out. When they’re frowned upon for approaching taboo topics that might be harsh for their gentle manner.

What the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism misunderstands is how feminism is not about anti-men, anti-hetrosexual relationships and nuclear families. It is about choice and equality and having the freedom to make those choices and recognising individual circumstances and desires. And the extent to which we, as a society, make people feel comfortable with such choices. I also couldn’t help but notice that most of these problems are rooted in privilege of the ‘first world’. We have the privilege to choose to educate ourselves by going to college or not. To love, marry and have a family with who we want or not. To dress how we like. To walk free in public spaces and compete for almost every job. To drive, to live alone, to move out. Things that we take for granted which women in other parts of the world are still fighting for.

Even in our society, the media dictates and socialises young girls into looking pretty, and the most appealing they possibly can through the way they dress and appear. When it leads to women getting cosmetic surgeries at young ages, anorexia, bulimia, to social insecurities, suicide, to infinite stress and the hours we spend on making ourselves beautiful according to someone else’s pre-defined standards. When women judge each other as a form of inverted misogyny. Yet even these are still first world problems compared to the examples given on this blog which sums it up way better than I could.

To me, the hashtag #womenagainstfeminism calls out the privilege that it is rooted in and ignorance of the wider world and even often their wider communities. Most of us live in multicultural societies where problems like these still go on even if on a smaller scale. It ignores considerations of race, ethnicity, class and backgrounds. Those using the hashtag may not feel oppressed because of their gender, but there are still thousands, even millions of women who are. Yes, modern feminism does need to move beyond rallying naked in New York streets and the cm measurements of the hair on our legs, to the bigger world. But to be against even recognising that there are women, even young girls who still need feminism isn’t simply ignorance, it’s attitude devoid of any human compassion.

Some other pretty great articles I came across while reading on this are below:

http://iwantedwings.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/a-response-to-women-against-feminism/

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/i-was-a-woman-against-feminism-too-9623742.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/rossalynwarren/heres-how-one-feminist-responded-to-women-who-say-they-dont

Blogging

I’ve been having one of my quiet spells, mainly to give myself some time to grow. My blog entries had begun to feel quite forced and I realised that the reason I blogged so little is partly because I never felt sure about myself. While blogging is a very cathartic process, it is also a very vulnerable one at times. And blogging constantly about my own self/life had begun to feel too self indulgent/angsty teenager as of the past 6 months or so. The whole world does it, I know. And it’s all very current, sharing your life online and kudos to those who do because it requires something. But I guess I prefer to make connections and talk to people personally as opposed to sharing publicly. That and the fact that I have been reading some pretty great articles about the pros and cons of blogging, and other pretty awesome blogs in general. These lead me to clean up the blog, draft the ‘journal’ posts that I wanted to keep for my own eyes, and blog about something else worthwhile. I could just not blog entirely, but I missed having a voice.

The aforementioned articles are below, in no particular order (the ones that I remember and can find links to anyway):

Litro Magazine: Blogging Towards a Publication - Even if you don’t want to be blogging towards a publication, the basics apply.

- Blogging Your Passion: Why No One Cares About Your Blog – Nice and to the point.

- Book Careers: Is Your Blog Killing Your Job Search? – They are definitely worth subscribing to.

Point Omega and National Poetry Day

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We recently read Don DeLillo’s Point Omega for a workshop  and came across an interview of his in which he says he changes the words of his sentences to fit the rhythm, even if it completely alters the meaning. I find this bizzare, brave and liberating at the same time. We’ve all put a word in a sentence at some point that has never seemed right and then spent hours trying to find one that says exactly the same thing. As writers, we attach a lot of meaning to our pieces and we hate letting that meaning go. Especially those of us who have been brought up to constantly ask ‘what does the author mean? What meaning can I take away from this?’ when reading other texts. Some of us don’t think that capturing the essence of meaning, as opposed to tying it down to each end is sometimes enough. I must admit it has made me less hesitant to write poetry. Because for me, that’s one of the difficulties of it; capturing the meaning yet being concise with it in such a short form.

A while ago someone sent me a YouTube link to performance poetry and it gave me a clearer sense of writing poetry too. Made me wonder why I hadn’t found one myself before. Also got me thinking of how poetry has always been written to be read aloud and performed. I’m not saying it has made it writing any easier, I still struggle and fret about whether it’s any good, but it helps having people around who you can trust to give you honest feedback. I guess I’m not ready to give up on poetry. It was what got me into writing, was what I wrote to begin with. Even though now, I look back and cringe horribly  at my younger self at the quality and teenage topic choices. But even back then I wrote to express. The best writing comes from the inside but it can sometimes be the worst because of our attachment to it.

I hadn’t actually meant to come on here and blog about poetry but I guess it’s fitting as it is national poetry day. I’ve written about five lines of two different poems in draft form on my phone over the past week just before dozing off to sleep. Lately I’m embracing the high points in life that not only make you write, but make you write fearlessly and worry about the ‘quality’ later. Being self critical can sometimes be counterproductive.

It wouldn’t be a proper entry without me sharing a poem. I really could list so many from Maya Angelou’s ‘I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings’ and so many of Emily Dickinson’s… I came across Carol Ann Duffy for the first time at A-Level and since then, this has been my all-time favourite poem. I find it so beautiful. Another one worth checking out is ‘Answering Back’, an anthology edited by her. What I love about it is that it’s contemporary poets responding to poets of the past, and you can see the comparison and how the poems compliment each other. Makes you appreciate and understand the works even more and smile at the witty responses. Reading the anthology, you really do get a sense of a conversation being carried on through the ages, and how time has altered opinions and attitudes. Definitely worth checking out. For now, this is my all-time favourite Duffy poem.

Words, Wide Night by Carol Ann Duffy
Somewhere on the other side of this wide night
and the distance between us, I am thinking of you.
The room is turning slowly away from the moon.This is pleasurable. Or shall I cross that out and say
it is sad? In one of the tenses I singing
an impossible song of desire that you cannot hear.
La lala la. See? I close my eyes and imagine the dark hills I would have to cross
to reach you. For I am in love with you
and this is what it is like or what it is like in words.

Creative Procrastination

I was meant to be doing essay planning/research. Instead, I downloaded some Photoshop brushes and slapped out a background. Haven’t used photoshop for things like this since.. well.. over 4 years now. Hence the amateur feel. And they came out way girly than I intended but I had fun doing it. Sometimes it’s good to do things in the moment rather than later even if it means putting off some necessary work. Sometimes. I guess I miss art. After being lost in a world of words it’s a nice, silent, visual escape. More cathartic than anything.

Any tips/comments welcome.
floral original

Floral-3

Floral-blue

flower-black-and-white

Brushes thanks to:

Abstract Grunge Pack by ~salvager

Floral Brush Set by =Lileya

Vintage Scratch by ~melemel

Experimental writing/pastiche

So I realise I talk about writing a lot but this blog does not really contain much of it due to that whole fear of keeping your work safe, plagiarism etc. This is something I wrote in the style of Jeanette Winterson as part of an assignment. It explores the themes of cliches, love, postmodernism and of course, the theme of pastiche in itself. We had a pretty amazing tutor for the module and I actually found it really inspiring. I thought doing this piece would be a bit difficult. It kind of was at first because with every single line I wrote I had to stop myself from crossing it out because it sounded so cliched. But when I got into it, it actually came in a really nice flow. Sometimes it’s nice to loosen up your writing.

—————————————————————–

When you fall in love it will hit you like a truck. But I am the observer of the crash. The blood splatters onto my clothes, the ambulance lights dance across my face. You have struck me but the hospital tells me there are no broken bones to mend, nothing I can recover from. But I can see the scars. In the nights they are my silver linings.

I love you. We say it not always as a declaration but as a question. And the answer is not always what we want to hear. You told me not to love you. You had nothing to give me. No pearls picked deep from the ocean, no chains strung around my neck. But you have chained me with never ending syllables and letters, joined by conjunctions and there are no full stops, no place for lack to find a weak link to plot against us. Against me. It could catch us trying to trick words for presence. I did not want the lack of you. Your face is in a glass. I can stare and listen but I cannot touch it. In the silence of the night your voice breaks the hum of the frequency. My eyes search the darkness for a shape that is not there. I did not want this.

I wake with your name lodged in my throat. It rakes the sides of my veins, and I keep trying to swallow down the salty taste of blood with saliva. The mirror tells me I am guilty. It has evidence to prove it and I have to hide it out of necessity. Secretly, I admit my guilt and stay locked in your virtual prison. The screen becomes my four padded walls and I sit on the three-legged chair with wires hooked to me in a state of paralysis. It is not long before my lips lose their corpulence and pouts turn into prosaic. 

When you fall in love it will hit you like a truck. I walk bare footed, back and forth across the wide, empty highway. The skin on my soles tugs against the tarmac until my feet are crimson and dry with blood. I hear a horn multiple years away. There is a tiny ball of light in the far distance. 

We create the story from the beginning, romanticize it and rehearse it. The cinema trips, the dinners in the dark. We act it out and if the plan goes accordingly we call it fate, destiny, soul mate. If the plan fails we call it heartbreak. 

Food For Thought: WHY?

Questioned Proposal by Eleaf

WHY?

People ask the question why as if there is always an answer. Does having an answer make the deed better than not having one? To me it sometimes seems to be some form of a pathetic justification. Sometimes if there is an answer it is almost unsatisfactory. So why ask the question? Normally it is to gain some understanding. But people often say ‘I understand, but that doesn’t make it any better’. Understanding implies transgression. If you cannot forgive and most past it then do you really understand?

New Year Thoughts

One of the things that have been bugging me lately though is the prospect of graduation. The second term is already near beginning and I’m wondering how I even got through the first term. When I started the degree I wanted to be a writer, who worked in a publishing/editing company. Now I’m not so sure. Then looms the question of what really sells a book? Is the author of 50 Shades a writer or am I a good writer if I get a first on my short fiction piece? When I started writing I wanted to write to change something, to change people’s views, to make them think. Whenever I write I feel like I need to write and tell a story. I still want to be a writer but when I go to write, my thoughts are constantly overshadowed by the question of ‘is it any good?’ Even now as I type my fingers have this huge urge to just stop and erase. Already I’m aware of the amount of times I’ve used the words like ‘guess’ and ‘suppose’. Words that give away uncertainty, but provide safety so you can balance yourself on the middle area, wavering from one side to the other.

To be honest I feel like that’s what I do constantly with my life. I waver. Between parts of who I am, parts of who I am around my family, my friends. We all probably do that to an extent. I’m an awkward person socially. I feel reluctant to even say that because nowadays it’s a phrase that is thrown around a lot. It’s good in a way because it allows people to be more honest if they are, but on the other hand, you hear people say it who manage to carry themselves off very well. What they’re going through inside is another matter I guess. But I’m pretty awkward to the point that I’ll do something stupid like miss the change slot on the bus and let the coins topple everywhere during a busy hour (happened pretty recently).boooks

I’m currently considering doing a masters in creative writing but I feel like by doing a masters I’ll be surrounding myself again with the safety of an academic life. Granted I’m accepted, of course. But I crave knowledge. I want to do a masters in creative writing though, and you could argue that you don’t need to be taught to write. But I think there’s a difference between being a writer and being able to write. My degree has definitely taught me how to write about what I want and I want to continue that. I want to continue having people around me to read and be read by. To criticise and be criticised by, and to tell me about books I haven’t read. Before I started it I had very little idea about the outlets for writers locally, how to approach publications, competitions, different industries, organisations, etc. And as much as I have been determined ever since to not be a teacher, the idea of teaching creative writing at higher education is one I’m beginning to find appealing.

I didn’t really know what I had set out to write about with this entry, but it has been a pretty long one and mostly tailored towards academic life and future plans. It’s conventionally ‘new year’ and somewhat cathartic.

Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own

woolf-a-room-of-ones-ownOkay I’m feeling strongly compelled to put this up though, because it’s really worth reading and it’s one of those things that even people who have no idea what this essay is about or who Virginia Woolf is, can understand. Or so I hope anyway. It’s just a small extract upon which much of my dissertation is based. Instead of talking about this I thought I’d let the essay talk for itself.

“Be that as it may, I could not help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare on the shelf, that the bishop was right at least in this;it would have been impossible, completely and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age of Shakespeare. Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably,–his mother was an heiress–to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin–Ovid,Virgil and Horace–and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door.Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter–indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said.

Men laughed in her face. The manager–a fat, looselipped man–guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting–no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress. He hinted–you can imagine what. She could get no training in her craft. Could she even seek her dinner in a tavern or roam the streets at midnight? Yet her genius was for fiction and lusted to feed abundantly upon the lives of men and women and the study of their ways. At last–for she was very young, oddly like Shakespeare the poet in her face, with the same grey eyes and rounded brows–at last Nick Greene the actor-manager took pity on her; she found herself with child by that gentleman and so–who shall measure the heat and violence of the poet’s heart when caught and tangled in a woman’s body?–killed herself one winter’s night and lies buried at some cross-roads where the omnibuses now stop outside the Elephant and Castle.

That, more or less, is how the story would run, I think, if a woman in Shakespeare’s day had had Shakespeare’s genius. But for my part, I agree with the deceased bishop, if such he was–it is unthinkable that any woman in Shakespeare’s day should have had Shakespeare’s genius. For genius like Shakespeare’s is not born among labouring, uneducated, servile people. It was not born in England among the Saxons and the Britons. It is not born to-day among the working classes. How, then, could it have been born among women whose work began, according to Professor Trevelyan, almost before they were out of the nursery, who were forced to it by their parents and held to it by all the power of law and custom? Yet genius of a sort must have existed among women as it must have existed among the working classes. Now and again an Emily Brontë or a Robert Burns blazes out and proves its presence. But certainly it  never got itself on to paper. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even of a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet, of some mute and inglorious Jane Austen, some Emily Brontë who dashed her brains out on the moor or mopped and mowed about the highways crazed with the torture that her gift had put her to.”

Taken from ProjectGutenberg.

A Sicilian Romance and the Gothic genre.

asicilianromanceI finally finished reading A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe. Got a bit sidetracked going away on a mini holiday, then coming back, being ill and other things have kept me occupied. But yesterday evening, I made myself sit down for 2 hours and finish all that was left of the book. I must admit I had goosebumps by the end of it, and as cliched as it sounds, I honestly was frantically page-turning to get to the end. I really seem to be enjoying reading Gothic texts. Think it has developed since half way through my second year to the point that now I’m having to force myself to read books for my other modules rather than focus on this particular one!

With this one, it was the rich landscape described with so much detail that really engrossed me. It sometimes definitely gets tedious when there are lines and lines of description on every page. And perhaps the idea of a sympathetic background becomes too obvious as well but I absolutely loved it for some reason. It really set the mood for me, and I felt equally as tense, or nervous or peaceful as the characters did while reading. I was able to imagine just about every castle, cathedral, ruin, forest. As well as having themes of religion, patriarchy, parental authority I found that the some of the plot also mirrored aspects of the fairytale genre. I’m not whether that’s just me though as I think it’s subtly done, but that could be a different reading.

The book is amazingly written though. Radcliffe has a lyricism to her writing and the twists of the plot such as the mysterious appearance of the ghost at the beginning of the novel which is fully explained at the end is brilliant. The perseverance that is shown in Julia, who constantly runs from the clutches of her father and the marriage unwanted by her is one of the things that really stood out for me as well. At so many points in the book I expected her to get caught, or give up or anything and she came pretty close to doing so which probably only added more to the thrill of it.

A lot of fainting happens in the book from the females which gets a tad ridiculous but to mistake it as a book not about female strength would be a mistake. I think it just depends if you’re into that sort a genre. I mean I love reading modern books with ‘strong’ depictions of females and what not but I have a huge amount of respect and love for the more ‘older’ books because it gives you a lot of perspective when comparing. I realise that summarising it in this way is doing it very little justice and this is not quite a review, but more my initial thoughts on it.