Thursday, 5 August 2010

Attitudes to Gender can Kill

Gender stereotypes may run rife in society, but they are no laughing matter. In a tragic piece of news from America, a man has beaten a 17-month-old child to death for 'acting like a little girl'.

Pedro Jones, who was not the father of the boy, punched and beat the child so hard that he had a cardiac arrest. He claimed that he was 'trying to make him act like a boy'.

Whilst this case is certainly extreme, it is symptomatic of the views society holds on what it means to be a 'boy' or 'girl'. This is not just a feminist issue - it is limiting to everyone. Females can't possibly act in a 'masculine' way, for fear of being un-ladylike. Males acting in any way feminine are seen as weak, and are often labelled gay. Whether this is a sign of the negative view held towards women or homosexual men isn't clear. It's likely both. But it needs to be stopped.

Admittedly, such views don't usually result in the death of a child. But they do stop men and women, and particularly boys and girls, acting in a way they enjoy. Whether it's a grandparent fretting that a young boy's interest in makeup will turn him gay (a sentiment I've heard recently), or a mother worrying that her daughter doesn't like pink, gender stereotypes are ever-present and inescapable.

A blue versus pink mindset is engrained in our society, and there seems little chance of changing this now. But I'm optimistic. Whether it leads to savage cruelty inflicted on a child, or mindless comments here and there, let us challenge these restrictions. It's not about what makes us masculine or feminine, it's about what gives us fulfilment.

Best Gay Week Ever? Perhaps not...

It seems as though the gay community (and anyone with any common sense, for that matter) has something to celebrate this week - Proposition 8, the shockingly discriminatory ‘law’ banning same-sex marriages in the state of California, has been overturned.

Whilst the law shouldn’t even have existed in the first place, its dessimation is certainly something to be happy about. It may only directly affect the homosexual residents of California, but it is a symbolic victory for rights-advocates everywhere. That such a pre-eminent state, in the most powerful country in the world, held (or holds) such archaic views on homosexuality is depressing. But that it can be beaten? Well, that’s surely a good sign.

Disappointingly, the reaction from the White House was lukewarm, to say the least. Despite expectations, self-proclaimed gay-rights advocate Barack Obama was not dancing on the ceiling. He was barely tapping his foot. All a representative could muster was this: ‘The President has spoken out in opposition to Proposition 8 because it is divisive and discriminatory. He will continue to promote equality for LGBT Americans’. Well, not bad, but not exactly good. Unofficial sources even question the extent to which this official line is even true - suggestions are floating around that the President isn’t as much a fan of gay marriage as his rhetoric might imply.

The end of Proposition 8 gives cause for us all to be happy, hetero or homo. But there is a long way to go. Mild-mannered, non-offensive statements are not enough. The corridors of power need to endorse LGBT causes with some soul, not forced utterances. Time to paint the White House pink.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Hugh Hefner in 'Sex Object' Shocker

Hugh Hefner, the champion of women's rights and torchbearer of third-wave feminism, has demonstrated his highly modern thought in a new documentary, in which he states that 'women are sex objects'. More profound wisdom from the highly egalitarian, forward-thinking gent.

Okay, so there was a touch of sarcasm there.

The perpetually-horny pornographer has bared all (eugh) in a new film, entitled Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel. I, for one, was not aware that campaigning for blondes with silicone-enhanced breasts to be on show counted as activism, but I digress.

Poor old Hugh's age must be playing tricks on his brain. He noncholantly states: 'It's the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go round. That's why women wear lipstick and short skirts'. It's a wonder humans has survived at all, what with the lack of short skirts and lipstick to pass around at the dawn of our species.

The Heff (surely what the misguided girls he pays to sleep with him must call him) thinks of himself as somewhat of a feminist. He panders to the clearly liberal view that the hypersexuality of feminism is liberating - it allows women to enjoy themselves, explore their emotions, and express a free choice.

But the Playboy, and those that share his views, has surely got it wrong. Not only is this hypersexuality making it seem as though women are worth nothing more than their sexual attractiveness, the idea of 'choice' is misleading. What other choices do Hugh Hefner's playmates have? Have they been given the choice to better themselves via their intelligence and personality, or has culture told them that they are nothing if they are not shag-worthy? Furthermore, why is it only predominantly white, blonde, skinny, twenty-something women that are 'free' to make this choice?

Monday, 26 July 2010

How not to Compliment a Woman

Just a message to all men that think they know how to compliment a woman (disclaimer - I know not ALL men are so crude). Looking a stranger up and down whilst she is minding her own business, then lecherously declaring ‘Mmmm, very nice’, is NOT a compliment. It is NOT flattery. It is plain rude.

I do not want to be made to feel like a piece of meat whilst I am going about my daily routine. I do not want you staring at my arse and tits. I am not here for your sexual gratification. I am a human being, and my breasts are not there for you, a complete stranger, most likely with a wife and children at home, to pass your judgment over.

It does not make you a real man to be so perverted - it only highlights your desperation, sadness, and complete inadequacy.

The Stun

Think red-tops like The Sun aren’t all bad? Take a look at this…

This reminds me of a time I happened to catch a glimpse of The Sunday Sport, whilst working at booksellers. They had their own version of Page 3 Idol, tastefully entitled ‘Miss Upskirt’. Make of that what you will…

Living Dolls by Natasha Walter

Any self-respecting woman / woman-respecting man should read this.

Natasha Walter is my new hero[ine].