Barbie dolls and March 8th

I sat with baby girl today playing with her dolls. Not that it’s an unusual thing – she asks me to play with all her Barbies and Disney princesses on a regular basis.

But today was a different day. Today was International Women’s Day.

This thought crossed my mind as I held the Anna Frozen doll, and she held the Elsa one. Sure, she was playing with Barbies. Barbies were typically portrayed as superficial dolls, dolls that until recent decades were typically associated with outdated and traditional personas, such as the trophy wife, not to mention their unrealistic and out-of-proportion body appearance and emphasis on the materialistic.

I wasn’t concerned, in the least. You know, the way a lot of ‘socially aware’ parents are nowadays. Baby girl played in the most well-rounded way. Sure she had her dolls. When she wasn’t playing with them, she was jumping on her trampoline. Kicking a ball. Playing catch with one of us. Drawing. Pasting and cutting. Looking through books. Watching Moana for about the millionth time (current phase). Loading her Shopkins into miniature bags for me to find later.

Basically, she wasn’t limited to one activity.

Still, I was aware. Aware of the youtube videos she watched of young girls playing with dolls, which she would then imitate. The dolls going out shopping. The dolls having tea. The dolls having an argument, and then making up. The dolls jumping in the pool. The dolls complimenting each other on their outfits.

So when baby girl stood one of her Barbie dolls on top of a plastic kitchen, and started yelling out “help me Ken, help!” being the day it was and all, I decided to change the rules.

The old rules. Of the weak girl. The strong male who swoops in to save the day.

Basically, the boy ‘hero’ image, versus the girl ‘weak’ image.

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“Save me, save me Ken!” she shrieked.

“No Barbie,” I held Ken and put on my most manliest of manly voices. “Barbie you’re a strong girl, you can do it yourself. Just jump Barbie.”

“No, no, it’s too high to jump!”

“Just jump to the middle Barbie,” I urged.

I watched humorously as baby girl took the Barbie to the middle shelf of the kitchen, before getting her to make one last jump to the carpet below.

“Yeah, you did it Barbie, well done,” ‘Ken’ told Barbie, as I smiled.

And then, a thought. Sure, baby girl watched these videos where the dolls did all girly things and needed occasional ‘saving.’

She was happily naïve – she did not know about the world we live in.

A world where there is discrimination against women.

A world where there is a pay gap.

A world where the general population pity the man and verbally slam the woman over the same activity.

A world where women cannot do certain things, because it is considered not acceptable for them to do so due to their gender, or even moreover, because they themselves don’t believe they can do it.

I was happy, because I knew in that moment, that this world didn’t exist for her. She was too young to know about it, or understand it at all.

And then, another thought. 

With the rise of the Time’s Up movement, a greater push and awareness of gender inequality and discrimination, and the increasing focus on women’s events, rights, and days such as International Women’s Day, my thought was…

She may never know.

She might never ever live to experience inequality.

She might never come across the excuse, “he’s just being a boy.”

She might never be told she can’t do something because it’s a man’s job.

She might be paid just as much, if not more, than her male friends when they enter the workforce.

She might just live her life with the same experience as every other being on this planet should experience: with fairness and an open heart.

She might live her life, without any focus on her female attributes.

Can you just imagine?  

The thought brought me so much joy at the Hope it promised. Now that’s something to strive towards…

Let’s make it happen for the next generation…

So when you are playing Barbies with the little people in your life, remember, it’s not what you play, it’s HOW you play…

And how you play, is Everyone saves themselves, because they are damn well strong, confident, positive and determined enough to.

Happy International Women’s Day ♥♥♥

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#MeToo

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein sexual allegations that have recently come out, a recurring thread has been popping up on social media.

#MeToo

It stands to encourage and empower women, by providing them with a voice to speak up now amidst the majority of women speaking out everywhere. This two-word hashtag is giving woman a platform to say “enough is enough.” A platform that is supposedly safe. A platform where supposedly judgment does not live.

 

I read an online comment the other day, posted by a male, who wrote that 50% of the blame lies with sexual harassment victims – basically if you dress provocatively, you need to be accountable for what will happen to you.

I cannot tell you how much I was infuriated by that bastard. He deserves all the Hate, Karma and horrible consequences of his unsightly accusations, and I hope he gets it three-fold. A woman can wear WHATEVER she chooses. She can do and go and be seen however she likes, because at the end of the day, if she says “no” to sexual advances, her opinions and choices need to be respected.

No buts. No excuses. No ‘get-out-of-jail-free’ cards.

She has red nailpolish? No means No.

She has blonde hair? No means No.

She has a tight dress? No means No.

She is flirty? No means No.

She fell asleep? No means No.

She is unconscious? No means No.

She said Yes before, but now she’s changed her mind? No means No.

Having the immature excuse of “she is teasing him in that dress,” is the most incomprehensibly weak excuse. It paints men as an immature, childish race, a race that cannot be held accountable for their actions since they apparently ‘can’t help themselves.’

(The female race has been dealt with the word ‘No’ for centuries now for not being as ‘strong’ as their male counterparts, and we’re still somehow surviving).

It paints men out to be like children. We say “they are learning” when our children draw on the walls, accidentally spill drink on the floor, and drop that ornament that has been in the family for years. They are learning, because they don’t know better. They are making accidents as they grow, and as they make their way through life. They are learning action leads to consequences, and so on.

A man forcing himself onto a woman, is not a lesson to be learnt. A man forcing himself onto a woman is NOT an accident.

NO means NO.

It is sad that despite years and years of sexual harassment, only now are women in the entertainment industry coming out and sharing their story. It is sad that there are other women in this field, saying it happens EVERYWHERE.

It is sad that women are expected to endure sexual harassment, and have to turn a blind eye, because ‘guys are just being guys.’

Like, No, these aggressors are not just ‘being guys,’ they are being DICKHEADS.

In the past week or so, as I started to see people I know posting the above hashtag on social media, some even commenting on scenarios they have been in, I started to think of myself and my life, and any incident of a sexual harassment nature that had made me upset, or scared to speak up.

I had to think for a while. Not because some incident happened years ago and it was something I had pushed to the back of my mind. No, I had to think, because I didn’t know where to start.

It’s a continual never-ending blur, the stuff we women must put up with. Incidences that occur in our day-to day-lives, the way we feel when we step out of the house alone, the thoughts that run through our minds, the scenarios of possible threatening situations, and the way we as women have been programmed to think, to be wary of all men, has now become an everyday normal thought process, something we don’t think twice about, and yet something that has merged all our unfortunate nightmares into one to make the opposite sex a feared one.

I have memories of dancing with my friends out at the nightclubs, and having guys tap you on the shoulder, push into your dancing space, or try to grab you not-so-conspicuously on the dancefloor. And when you tell them “stop” or show no interest, or turn away… they would get upset. A guy who I have never met before in my life, got upset I didn’t let him touch me, and he didn’t even know my name.

And knowing my name does not give him a reason to do it either.

Rule 1: why do you think girls go to the toilet together? Safety in numbers.

Sorry dude. Apparently me dancing with my girlfriends means I OWE YOU MY BODY.

There are the stares. The leers and the whistles. The way you walk past a group of guys, and their quiet lingering is unsettling as you pass them by. The deafening silence as they stare you down, their heads following as you disappear behind them, screams in your ears.

It is the day-to-day uncomfortableness. It is there ALL the time.

2. Don’t look a male stranger in the eye. It ‘encourages’ them. 

Do you know what I read today? An Egyptian lawyer has come out to say that women who wear ripped jeans deserve to be raped. In fact, it is a man’s cultural obligation to do so to women, because they are teaching them ‘self-respect.’

This is what is being said in this day, in this age. A man is publicly speaking and encouraging other men to do their duty and ‘take care’ of the women, who by wearing slits in their jeans as a fashion statement, are apparently not looking after themselves.

Rule 3: Do not live life freely. Do not for one second think you can live like a man and not get in trouble for it. Your sex will catch up to you.

I was followed once. I was followed after departing from a train station on a Friday night. The guy was breathing down my back, following me back to the car park until he realised Hubbie was waiting for me there – he then abruptly veered off and stood amongst some trees before back-tracking and making his way to the train station, undoubtedly to look for his next victim.

I can’t imagine what would have eventuated if I had not had someone there waiting for me. I shudder to think of all those girls who make their way home from work, from school, from being out with their friends, and DON’T have the luxury of someone waiting for them on the other side.

This makes me so sick.

There are not only 3 rules. The ongoing rules of life as a woman, are to avoid all kinds of male interaction EVER, in all of your day-to day activities, and ensure you avoid at all costs any alone time with a stranger man. With a man. Because you NEVER KNOW.

It’s the disparaging remarks in the workplace. Men can get away with making fun of the female form, vagina jokes and lesser-sex putdowns, but can you imagine if a woman poked fun at a man’s temperamental dick? At his sensitive testicles? About how at the beach, all of his manhood is on show?

Do you think us as women, would get the sack? Of course we would. And yet men are getting away with sexual discrimination of all kinds, of favouring one sex for promotions and jobs and opportunity, and let’s not forget the never-ending equal-pay dispute, the constant reminder that a woman still IS lesser than a man while at work, doing the exact same job.

It’s telling your Hubbie not to get odd-job house quotes when he is at work. It’s the unease about being in a house alone with a man you have never met before and having that nagging thought in the back of your head “what if?”

It is choosing to wear ‘safe’ clothing, because you will not be noticed.

It is bowing your head down low as you walk so as to not meet any lingering eyes.

It’s the world-wide excuse of acceptance, normalising the behaviour, and enabling it from incompetents such as the Egyptian lawyer, who added that his own daughter should be raped if she too, wore ripped jeans.

And after all of this, and so many more incidences that fail to come to mind because I have been programmed like the rest of women in society to ‘get used to it,’ I also say

mihai-surdu-415698

#MeToo.

Me Too. This has to stop.

 

Photo by Mihai Surdu on Unsplash

 

Girls… we have a LONG way to go yet

(I’d like to forewarn, of my use of the word ‘men.’ I use it in a general all-encompassing sense in this post, however I don’t really mean ALL men, rather to the scum presented below, and those who hold women back from where they need to be in 2017).

Frankly, I’m a little appalled at myself.

This time last year, I wrote a gratitude piece on International Women’s Day. I wrote things like

 

“As women, we need to know our worth and value it, and not continually lay blame on the man, or complain that we are not given fair treatment because of him.

“It’s due to this that we should place further awareness of this important day, in order for those other parts of the world, those ‘cavemen,’ and likewise any unintentionally or not, abiding cavewomen, to catch up, and smell the coffee roasting from the beans that we bought ourselves.”

To read it in its full context you should probably click here. But basically I was saying that  women are sometimes equally to blame as men are for their unfair treatment, because of the way they expect to be treated – they don’t realise their worth, therefore, men will NOT realise their worth.

Excuse me as I bitch-slap myself.

Lucky for me, I am a keen and curious soul, and I LOVE to listen to other people’s points of view. And call it fate, call it opportunity, call it divine intervention trying to tell me something, grabbing hold of me by the wrists and shaking me and yelling “Listen! You have to take this in!”… but lately, I’ve been getting really mad, as I get exposed to a whole bevy of stories and circumstances where women are treated awfully unequally.

Like slaves.

Like nothing.

Like a pile of shit.

So I’m sorry to say, but on this International Women’s Day, we still have an awful long way to go.

Women are still being treated like sex slaves. Domestic violence leads to death for one woman a week. One woman a week. Women are raped, ALL around the world – Eastern and Western cultures do not discriminate. Sexual assault is one of the most undetected crimes, with many women fearing coming forward due to the traumatic process of needing evidence, and having to be strewn through the courts with examination after examination. Offenders get a slap on the wrist, before moving on with their lives, with the victims left to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives, and try to make some sense of it all – only there is NO sense in it all. Side effects of the ordeal are long-term, psychological, physical and affect the entire support network IF there is one, not just the sole victim.

Women are still being paid much less than the opposite sex. Women are underpaid compared to their counterparts, and even though they are often given the advice to be ‘more confident,’ ‘more assertive,’ (like men), it is a double-edged sword, as displaying these career-driven characteristics place them in the unwomanly field – they are not acting in accordance with their sex, and that is a deviation.

What I have come to detest particularly is the victim-blaming: always on behalf of the woman.

The woman sends a naked pic of herself to her boyfriend, and it is HER fault when he later posts it when they break-up.

The woman gets side-lined for a promotion, and it is HER fault, because she was too assertive – too much of a bitch.

The woman gets raped, but it is HER fault, because she was wearing a mini skirt.

The woman gets assaulted, but it’s HER fault yet again, because she was drunk, and really she was asking for it.

Why are the women, ALWAYS to blame? Why is it their fault that men can’t act accordingly? Why is it their responsibility to ensure they will be respected and treated equal, like men are: that is, not discriminated against or assaulted in any way.

How about the MAN is held accountable? I mean, he DID upload that naked pic of her online.

He didn’t promote his female employee, because he was threatened by her assertiveness and drive.

He raped her, because her mini skirt ‘provoked’ him.

He assaulted her, because she didn’t know better, and wouldn’t remember it in the morning anyway.

HOW ARE THESE THINGS OKAY?

In September 2016, Stanford Uni student Brock Turner, walked out of jail after only serving 3 months of jail, where he could have received a maximum of 14 years. It was a severe breach of court justice, and the male judge is now removed from residing over any criminal cases. Brock was found guilty in March on counts of intent to commit rape of an unconscious person, and penetration of an intoxicated and unconscious person.

His father showed the world why his son turned out to be such a weak imbecile and cowardly piece of filth, when he infamously asked for a lenient sentence for his son in a letter, saying a lengthy sentence was a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action.

20 minutes of action.

20 minutes of action.

Really. 20 minutes of action. Your son assaulted a woman who was both intoxicated and unconscious. It was sexual assault. Choosing ‘lighter’ words make you sound like the type of scum that needs to be removed from this earth, rather than make anyone submit to your case.

If you want to get really angry, you can read the victim’s full statement that went viral last year, here.

Closer to home, and recently I read the explicitly disturbing story of Tara Brown, who was savagely beaten to death by her ex-partner in 2015. Lionel Patea had dropped off their daughter at school, before chasing her down in his car, running her off the road, and then picking up a hydrant and bashing her repeatedly while she was trapped in the car.

She died due to the extreme injuries she had sustained later in hospital.

And you know what he wrote in a letter to her family? He questioned how a tragedy such as this could have happened.

He had beaten her to death, and yet, he did not understand how he did it. As if it wasn’t his fault. Excusing himself from blame.

These examples are primary ones in the issue of women’s equality, however they are only the beginning of the tip of the cold and stark iceberg that is buried deep beyond sight. The discrimination, the fear, the uncertainty that you are born with when you are born a woman… sure, we can vote. Sure, we can work. Sure, we are treated equally in some workplaces, to some degree.

But we are living in 2017 people. Repeat. 2017.

Sexual assault.

Sexist culture.

Unfair pay.

Discrimination.

Bias.

This is happening to a woman, RIGHT NOW.

It doesn’t feel very forward-thinking and living to me.

Sure, I appreciate the women in my life on this day of ‘Women.’ And sure, I am grateful for their positive role in my life, and how they still to this day continue to shape me with their strength, their courage, their fragility, and their never-say-die attitude.

But I don’t have my head in the sand anymore. I am looking at the bigger picture, rather than just my small circle. I don’t have all the answers, and I don’t know how one person can even make a difference.

But together, as women and men respectfully unite, WE CAN.

Education must start in the home. Children must be taught to treat all as equals. Schools must follow suit, and then there must be legislation against the deviants who think themselves above the law and system, and take it upon themselves to ‘show a woman whose boss.’

WE need to show the deviants whose boss.

They are simple sentences, but they are big, HUGE, ideas. They require a lot of reform.

So on this day, the 8th of March, I celebrate one thing in particular:

The women who make things happen, and make positive changes for the better of all future women EVERYWHERE.

Because it is that woman that I also, want to be.