International Women’s Day – What are We Celebrating?

It seems apt that today on International Women’s Day, I break my spell of writer’s block and write my first piece in 2016.

It was Twitter that brought my attention to the occasion that is being commemorated today. It was also Twitter that drew my attention to yet another social media storm surrounding, arguably one of the most famous women on the planet; Kim Kardashian. It seemed to me a twisted irony that Kim K’s name was trending on two separate topics at the same time as #InternationalWomensDay.

In 2016 it feels as though there is not much to celebrate about being woman. The job that I do means that I constantly come into contact with women who are victims of domestic abuse. Some figures show that globally, 1 in 3 women will experience violence at the hands of a male partner but I have a strong suspicion that if all cases were actually reported, the figures would be far higher. Other uplifting statistics show that there continues to be an increase in sexual crime against women.

It is becoming apparent that the women that are celebrated the most are the women who consistently appear in public without clothes. I may have burying my head in the sand, but I am at a loss to explain how this has happened.  Could Western Feminism be to blame? The type of feminism that I describe as “Western” defends the right of women to do whatever they want with their bodies, including exhibiting its naked form whenever and however they choose. It was out of Western Feminism the ridiculously absurd “Free the Nipple” campaign was birthed. I can think of no finer example of what can happen in a society to rich with privilege and comfort that a woman’s chief concern is about cultivating the right to be indecently exposed.

One of the problems with this new wave of “we have the right to wear what we want or wear nothing at all” type feminism is that it ignores the question; “why?” After all, such behaviour goes against our natural instinct to preserve our modesty. To illustrate my point, if you were out in public somewhere and experienced a wardrobe malfunction that meant you behind was exposed, would you just carry on as normal, or try and find something to cover yourself until you got home? To those that do not appear to have this instinct, we should be addressing the question, “why do want your naked body to be seen by everybody?” Do you just want attention? Are you insecure?

But that’s the trouble with Western Feminism; it asks no questions, and it ignores all consequences. Is it a coincidence that in a day an age where images of the naked female body are displayed at every opportunity and saturate  media and advertising to an inescapable degree, there is an increase in sexual violence towards women? I was horrified to read a piece by Lucy Managan in the Stylist, describing how a man on the tube was staring at her creepily and then staring at his phone, only for her to discover that he was watching pornography on his phone, openly on the tube. This is the world we now live in.

There may have been a time when feminism was all about ensuring that women were treated fairly, and afforded the same rights and opportunities as men, but now I can’t help but think Western Feminism is only adding to the problems that women face today. That’s why I believe we must stop the practice of accusing people of “slut shaming” simply for pointing  out that the absence of clothes on prominent females does nothing to raise the esteem of women who are made to feel their own bodies are inadequate. It does nothing to highlight important inner qualities and capabilities of women or recongise their achievements. And it certainly does nothing to bring an end to the objectification and subjugation of women all around the world.

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How to Be More Beautiful in 2015

I just thought I would share some beauty tips for the year ahead. These are things that I really hope to do more of myself! Here goes:

  1. Smile more. Even if you don’t really feel like it, you will probably make yourself feel better and make other people around you feel better too.
  2. Do something kind every day. If you make it an aim to do at least one kind thing, you’ll have less time to worry about negative things in life.
  3. See the best in people. We all know nobody is perfect, but what if instead of focusing on what we don’t like about a person, we focused on the good things about that person?
  4. Think of yourself less. Being humble does not mean thinking less of yourself, it means thinking of yourself less. Think more about of other people, what they might be going through, what support they might need, etc
  5. Be content. Stop looking at what other people have, and wishing you had it (perhaps stop looking so much at Instagram? I’m speaking to myself here). The grass always appears to be greener on the other side, but just water your own grass if you want it to grow.
  6. Be thankful. The quickest way out of a bad/sad mood is to count your blessings. Stop and think about all the things you are thankful for.
  7. Start living… As opposed to performing a series of acts for the sole purpose of documenting your actions on Instagram, Facebook, Youtube etc to garner “likes” and comments of approval and adoration.

Was this list not what you were expecting? Sorry if you came here looking for make up brand endorsements, or a tutorial on how to draw on eyebrows. It’s just that we seem to be so obsessed with outward beauty, as though that is all that matters. Being beautiful has very little to do with what lipstick you wear, but everything to do with character. I just hope this year more young women will being to realise that, and break free from the tentacles of mass media merchandising machines.

Happy New Year?

The reason for the question mark in my title is, hasn’t January 2015 just been a little bit depressing? I do not mean to sound negative here, but I really do hope things improve from here on out. The following (in no particular order) are a list of reasons why in my opinion, this year so far has not been so “happy”:

  • It is very cold, windy and rainy.
  • Trains everywhere seem to be running an appalling service, constantly running late, and are extremely over packed. Oh and fares have gone up too.
  • I’m fatter than usual following Christmas 2014. Usually after Christmas, I go up just one dress size, but this year it’s two.
  • Hospitals everywhere cannot cope with the number of patients being admitted. I’m scared that should I need urgent medical attention, an ambulance may reach me by January 2016.
  • The general election has not happened yet, and David Cameron is still the prime minister.
  • Over 2000 people, according to Amnesty figures, were massacred in Nigeria. As bad as that is, the tragedy was made worse by the lack of media coverage it received.
  • It’s 2015 and instead of there being greater understanding of different cultures etc, racism, it appears, is more acceptable than ever under the guises of “an honest debate about immigration”, “promoting British/Western values” and “the freedom/right to offend”.
  • Black lives still don’t matter
  • The rich continue to get richer, and the poor get poorer
  • Celebrity Big Brother has returned again. (When will this trash die?)
  • I can’t even comfort eat away some of my woes because I now have to be on a stupid diet

Despite all of these things, I live in hope. Not every year can be entirely wonderful, and anyway, this is just the beginning. After all at this time last year I was unaware that I was going to be proposed to a few days later, and then married by the end of the year (more about that later).

The best comfort really, is to continue to remind myself that this life is temporary, and to think of things eternal.