Tag Archives: patriarchy

What the Internet Thinks of Women

23 Oct

There is a lot of hype surround UN Women’s new ad campaign. It utilizes Google Search’s autocomplete feature and takes a screenshot of what happens when you search “women cannot”, “women should”, “women shouldn’t” and “women need to”. They are very powerful images, and it places the screenshot of the search over a woman’s mouth.

Something to note is that Google Search has different results for different people – Google personalizes your search results based on web history.

So, I typed in the above searches for both men and women, and these were my results (click to image to view full-size).

women cannot

 Not only is this a brilliant ad campaign, but it shows just how entrenched patriarchy and sexism are in our society. When we do the same searches for men, we can see how patriarchy negatively affects men as well. “Men shouldn’t cry” and “men need to man up” are some examples of how patriarchy is a human problem, not a woman’s problem. “Men cannot be feminists” shows us how much we really need men in the feminist movement.

What happens when you do these searches? What are your reactions?

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How to be an Ally

31 Jul

I am a female feminist. I am also white, heterosexual and cis (my gender matches the sex I was assigned at birth), and I recognize the privileges that come with those attributes – not to mention being from a middle-class Canadian family. I strive to be an ally for people of the LQBTQQ community and for people of colour, and navigating the best way to do that can at times be difficult. Michael Urbina wrote a fantastic article titled 101 Everyday Ways for Men to be Allies to Women. I recommend reading the article in its entirety, especially for my male readers, but I am going to highlight some of my favourite points that I think are applicable to anyone who wants to be an ally to women, people of colour, and the LGBTQQ community. I added some personal comments in italics.

  • Recognize your privileges, especially your male privilege (and white privilege if applicable).
  • Make a daily effort to acknowledge and then challenge your privilege.
  • Recognize that your male privilege (among other privileges) may in fact blind you to others’ experiences.
  • Stop catcalling. Seriously, just stop! 
  • If you’re going to be chivalrous (on dates) or in everyday life, do it for everyone out of kindness, not just for women or people you think are not capable of doing things themselves. Also known as: be a kind and respectful person.
  • Monitor your use of words.
  • Never force your opinions on other people.
  • Be conscious of your words and the effects it could have on others.
  • Be pro-choice.
  • Acknowledge the lived experiences of women and LGBT-identified people. (And I will add people of colour to this).
  • Support same-sex marriage. Given.
  • Challenge everyday sexism in your life.
  • Call out your friends on oppressive behaviors, jokes, or comments. This can be difficult; I cannot count the amount of times I have argued with my brothers over their usage of “That’s so gay.” This can especially be difficult if safety is at risk. Last weekend a white male called my black friend a n*gger at the club very quietly and I called him out not at all quietly – it nearly ended in a brawl. 
  • Support musicians and artists that do not degrade women (or others) in their music and lyrics. – Have you read the lyrics or seen the video for Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines?! 
  • Claim the feminist label. Read my post about why this is important here
  • Don’t be the hero, savior, or knight in shining armor. Allyship isn’t about rescuing people from their oppressors, as if they couldn’t do it on their own. Allyship is about standing in solidarity and working together to collectively tackle a social problem.
  • Support other people who advocate for gender equality (and all forms of equality).
  • Be willing to listen and know when to refer people to other resources.
  • Be an active bystander. If you witness harassment, do something about it.
  • Learn and use appropriate vocabulary.
  • Advocate for more inclusive policies, rules, or procedures in your school or workplace.
  • Be proud to be an ally.
  • Seek out children’s books for your kids that challenge traditional gender roles. (My amazing mother read The Paper Bag Princess to me soooo many times, and my wonderful self-identified feminist father was always there to act it out with me! For other titles, go here.)
  • Challenge entitlement (read my previous blog post and personal experience about this here.)
  • This might go without saying, but be conscious of other social problems and issues! All oppression is connected.
  • Support and vote for political candidates who advocate policies beneficial to women, LGBT people, and other marginalized groups of people.
  • Travel to unfamiliar places.
  • Ask questions (but not too many)!

What are your thoughts on being an ally? What other ways can someone be an ally?

More than a Woman’s Issue

1 Jul

I read a great article about a woman’s experience talking with rape and genocide survivors in Rwanda, highlighting why rape is more than a woman’s issue.

“In Rwanda, a majority of Rwandans still say “a man’s tears run within his stomach,” which suggests that emotions should be encased. In the United States, it’s the same. Emotion is weak and feminine and not a legitimate source for proof or argumentation. In Rwanda, rape survivors are marginalized. In the U.S., rape survivors are marginalized.

In both countries, rape is “a woman’s issue.”

Read the full article here

Bride Price in Botswana

22 Mar

This is an excerpt from my original post for the International Women’s Initiative’s Survivor’s Blog. To read the full blog, please follow this link

“At the most basic understanding of lebola, paying a bride price turns a woman into a commodity that can be bought and sold. The meaning and the implementation of the lebola has changed and been molded over time and current practices do not necessarily represent the tradition of a lebola in Botswana. In theory, the lebola is supposed to be a man’s way of showing appreciation and recognition of the woman’s value to her parents. However in practice, the lebola often limits a woman’s control and decision-making power in her marriage.”

Masculism

20 Aug

As a self-defined feminist, I am interested in all gender issues and how societal norms affect both men and women. While I have mostly focused my attention on women’s issues, it is naive to think that men aren’t also harmed by gender stereotypes. This is why I loved this picture, posted by the True Lebanese Feminist on Facebook, and shared by my cousin.

Then, an old friend from high school posted the following comment: “Masculism is a counterpart and a natural extension of feminism.” I had never heard of masculism before, so I was intrigued.

A quick Google search gave me a few different views and definitions of masculism. The Wikipedia page gave a generic definition and not much else: “Masculism is the advocacy of the rights or needs of men and the adherence to or promotion of opinions, values, etc., regarded as typical of men.” Masculism.ca‘s mission gave a little more insight into the movement, and highlighted the importance of respecting women’s rights, but seemed to misunderstand the goals of feminism. The second result on Google was a website called Gender Liberation Beyond Feminism had me intrigued, but then I started reading the article… I’ll let you follow the think and read it yourself, but here is one excerpt: “But what feminists forget to mention is that a prerequisite to be part of the feminist movement is that you accept the ideology that men as a group systematically oppress women as a group, and that women’s issues always take precedence over men’s issues.” Obviously I disagree with the author’s definition of feminism.

Then I found the blog Who Needs Masculism? and I found a definition that I could get behind: “Masculism is the controversial idea that just because one half of society has substantial problems one doesn’t have to ignore the problems of the other half. Unlike first-wave feminism, masculism doesn’t arise as a response to wide-spread institutionalized mistreatment. Instead, like the secondary and tertiary waves of feminism, it is a lens through which we can observe and hopefully rectify societal problems from the perspective of average men of no great faculty or status.” And I love the answer to the blog’s title: “We all do. True masculism needs feminism. True feminism needs masculism. For either one to deny the necessity of the other abdicates the common goals of both: Equality regardless of gender or sex, and dissolution of the patriarchy.”

So, my dear readers: have you heard of masculism before today? How would you define it? Would you agree that masculism and feminism are natural counterparts and need each other to truly fulfill their goals? Or could it be a dangerous ideology that some people use to act against feminism? I’m still very new to this particular topic, so I am interested to hear some opinions!

2 Aug

Should women play the game or change the game?