#YesAllWomen

Over the last week one of the biggest news stories was of the shooting in Santa Barbara, promoting the hashtag #YesAllWomen. It has become another debate about attitudes to women in Western society and the experiences they have in a male orientated world -experiences which men are seemingly oblivious to and quick to point out that it’s #NotAllMen.
If course it isn’t all men, but as many have pointed out, it certainly is all women who have experienced harassment or abuse or fear at the hands of men. I have had numerous encounters with men who cannot take no for an answer except if another man is involved. I’ve been stopped in the street and expected to give my number to a complete stranger. When you’re minding your own business on your way home and a man tells you you’re attractive, you thank him and try to walk on, but he follows, asking if you want to go out, if you’re single, where you’re going. And then for your number.

I used to give it, not because I wanted to, but because I was socialised into believing that this was a complement. I was lucky to be receiving attention and therefore felt incredibly bad for rejecting him. It’s not a complement, to be accosted and followed and followed. In a conversion with a friend I heard the usual ‘so where are you supposed to meet people then?’

The idea that she tried to justify the behaviour with that argument is confusing-how many times had anybody seen it being done the other way around? Not often. Why is it that women can restrain themselves to social situations but it is expected that men can’t?
Watching Laci Green’s videos on these topics has really opened my eyes. Watch it:

Women are consistently portrayed as objects, lesser than men, and not taken as seriously. I really believe that lots of women aren’t even aware of it, or say they aren’t feminists because it’s almost a dirty word these days, or don’t want to be seen as an uptight vagina getting her knickers in a twist over nothing. The response to any outrage in relation to equality for women is often ‘calm down dear'(quoted from Prime Minister David Cameron), as if inequalities don’t exist.

Again, this leads us to the problem of portrayal of women in the media. I recently saw an advert similar to this:

I was completely shocked that this was on television before realising we are fed this stuff all the time.  Women are fed the lie that we are unattractive to men in our natural bodies, and that we should strive to be what society has told men they should want in a woman-  hairless, bony and caked in makeup. We can only take natural pictures of ourselves to aid cancer, and it’s considered a brave thing to do- to bear our hideous, unpainted faces to the world.

The one thing I don’t often hear women say is : I’m completely confident in myself and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says.’ Women are not allowed to say that (as demonstrated by Samantha Brick) and we are never allowed to feel beautiful for ourselves rather than for the men we are supposed to please.

I am 20. I did not post a ‘no make-up selfie’ (nor do I wear makeup every day), I shave when I feel like it, wear what I want and I no longer give out my number.

I am completely confident in myself as a person and my appearance, regardless of what anybody else says. I am not here to satisfy the opposite sex, I am not a lesser being, I do not owe anybody anything (except my mother, she gave birth to me) and I will not let society make me believe otherwise.

May

Since my last update, a lot has happened, and not very much has happened at the same time. My driving has improved a lot, I’m no longer gripping the wheel in complete fear of hitting someone, and I’m getting used to all the changing gear stuff. Not long left until my lessons are over.

It’s also exam season. This year I have just five exams, two of which are completely unnecessary to my future, but I’m still nervous about taking. I feel like I don’t get much revision done but when I do, it’s pretty productive.

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I’ve also taken up knitting. I know that sounds really old and weird but I’m almost finished knitting a jumper to wear while I’m in Florida. I know Florida’s going to be madly hot, but last summer when I went, the AC inside every building left me freezing and completely unprepared. The really nerdy part is that it’s a pattern design from Harry Potter, the one which Mrs. Weasley knits Ron and Harry for Christmas. I bought the exact wool they used from the film (a coincidence, not on purpose) and it looks great. I’ll post a picture when it’s done.

I still have to hand in my notice at work, but I’m going to wait until the end of the month for that. I’m so excited though, I can’t wait for the summer to begin and for exams to be over!

My Thoughts On The Halal Meat Debate

So it has recently come to light (or rather the Sun and the Daily Mail have blasted it everywhere) that Halal chicken has been being used in Pizza Express without it being made known publicly. That, along with the story that some 185 Subways have cut pork from the menu has caused a lot of people to express the following views:

That people should quit whining.

This is just UKIP and those Right Wing, Xenophobic racists scaremongering and promoting the idea that there is an ‘islamification of Britain’.

Halal meat is no different from non-halal meat, and there is no reason people should be up in arms when the usual methods of killing are just as gruesome.

My own views are far more liberal (although, I believe the people expressing the views above see their own views as liberal). What I feel most people are ignoring is the fact that our society is based on the idea that we should be equal and democratic. Everybody should have a say, and everybody should be treated equally. Although this doesn’t happen, that’s what we strive for.

I think it’s a good idea that Halal meat is offered in more places as the muslim population continues to grow. I think it’s good that they are having more options open to them, especially in mainstream chains. I don’t think people should be labelled as racist for being unhappy with the idea of being fed Halal meat without it being made abundantly clear that that is what it is.

To make it clear: I dislike the idea of slitting an animal’s throat while it’s fully conscious, but in the grand scheme of things, that’s probably the least of an animal’s problems in production. As bad as it sounds, I am not an animal rights activist and I am not overly concerned with the way they are slaughtered. I don’t care if I eat Halal meat, it’s all the same to me.

I believe that all Halal meat should be clearly labelled in stores and on menus, because for some, the ritualistic element is not something they agree with. For some Christians for example, if they fundamentally disagree with Islam, they may not want to eat food which has had an Islamic blessing on it. For an Atheist, they may want to eat food free from any religious ritual which they fundamentally disagree with. People should be given a clear choice and be able to make an informed decision on what they are eating, without being labelled ‘racist’ or Islamophobic because they don’t agree with it.

My second view is that the choice of pork should not be taken away from non-muslims. In a society that strives to be equal, removing the options and choices of one group to benefit another goes against the whole meaning of equality. Yes, of course I know that we are talking about a few small scraps of bacon replaced by turkey rashers, but the principle still stands. In addition, I feel that Subway’s decision to do this was a bad move. In a time when UKIP and the BNP are spouting their frankly racist views about Immigration, removing that small choice for the ‘indigenous’ (and I use that word lightly) people is giving them plenty of ammunition the rest of us would rather they did not have.

My last thought is a general one about religion. It seems to me that religion always seems to be above the law in a lot of cases. There are always exceptions for religions, and again, in a society which is still striving for equality (which we will never have) this is something we must be wary of.