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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Marriage isn’t for Men

That’s right Seth, I thought whilst reading his now famous blog post about his (eventual) self sacrificial marriage. That’s right, Seth, it’s not all about you. Why do so many men make that same mistake?

What for me, is perhaps the most fascinating thing about “Marriage isn’t for you”, is that the rate people are sharing it, you would think it was wholly groundbreaking. I mean, is this really news? That marriage should be about putting your spouse first, ensuring their needs are met, being loving and kind, and unselfish? Sadly in our increasingly shallow and self-centred world, where men and women are celebrated for “selfies” and other self indulgent practices, this IS shocking news to most. You mean, being married isn’t all about me? I can imagine some people have been walking around in a confused daze since reading Seth’s post, similar to when they first discovered that Santa, or the Tooth Fairy are not real.

Suffice to say, that no wonder divorce rates are ever on the up. When a man (for the purposes of this post, I am focusing on the men) realises that he’s not getting everything he wants from a relationship, he walks, in the hope that some other woman will better pander to his ego, stomach, sexual needs etc. I want to focus on men, because it’s interesting isn’t, that a man wrote the enlightened piece. He’d clearly had an epiphany. But in my experience, (most) women have had this, doing what pleases the other, attitude for centuries. Maybe I am more exposed to it because of my cultural background. You see it often in West African cultures, and in Asian and middle-eastern cultures too. Even historically speaking, in English culture; women who put aside their own wants and needs to satisfy the wants and needs of their husbands.

Men are the ones, in my opinion, who really need the wake up call. It is hardly a contentious point, that women are objectified by men. More so than ever these days, with it not being possible to go a day without casting your eye over a half naked woman, either on a billboard, TV commercial, or over the shoulder of someone reading The Sun. Men are often referred to as having “trophy wives”, denoting a wife that serves no other purpose than to serve the man’s need to exude power and status. Or sometimes the man just wants a woman to bear him healthy and good looking heirs. (Recent case in point: did you hear about the Chinese man that sued his wife for being ugly? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2223718/Chinese-man-sues-wife-ugly-court-AGREES–awarding-120-000.html).

marriage nagging wife

Oh how much more marriages would survive, if men stopped seeing their wives as mere babysitters, cooks, cleaners, punching bags, sexual slaves, doormats, property. It’s amazing how far treating a woman with dignity and respect will get you. It’s disheartening that such simple principles are so seldom seen these days. Is “feminism” (I use the word loosely) to blame? Feminists want women to be treated equally, or in other words the same as men. Well guess what ladies, we are not the same as men. We are designed differently, we are physically not as strong, we have a different hormonal make up, different ways of thinking and so on. Of course women should not be discriminated against, and should have the same rights afforded to men, but the insistence that women should be treated the same as men in every respect, has had the knock on effect that chivalry is now dead. Ladies, if a guy holds a door open for you, do you honestly believe that it’s because he thinks you do not have the strength or intelligence to open the door yourself?

Back to you men as I round up this semi-rant. I know that women can be selfish too, don’t get me wrong (click here for proof http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QAXSgssptc0), but, if I’m still allowed to say such things in society that is seeking to throw away the concept of gender, man up, and be a man. Take responsibility for the relationship you’re in. Ask yourself the difficult questions, how do you see your wife? Have you become, or have you always been selfish? Why not take a leaf out of Seth’s book, turn the page and begin a new chapter.