blender I love boobs. I think they are beautiful and if I thought I could get away with posting a picture of mine here I would but as my mother reads this and would spontaneously combust at the sight of my pierced nipples, I’ll have to deny you that treat. What I don’t love though is the constant and systematic objectification of women and the hyper sexualisation of boobs that sees them become public property. The ‘No More Page 3‘ campaign was launched in 2012 by Lucy-Ann Holmes and has received a ton of media attention since. I get it and am totally on board with the majority of key points behind their aim of getting Page 3 removed from The Sun. If I am totally honest though, I haven’t signed the petition; not because I don’t recognise it’s importance but because I think The Sun itself is a hideous, misogynistic rag that manages to tick every box of the DO NOT DO list including transphobia, racism and homophobia as well as the rampant sexism. Signing the petition felt like saying OK, just the tits need to go and it’s cool, when in actual fact the whole HQ could burn down in a fire, leaving just a pile of thongs, used tissues  and Jeremy Clarkson’s suits and I wouldn’t mind. SunSun Why does Page 3 irk me so much though? Firstly, it presents women as little more than objects to be ogled over and reduces them down to body parts and ideals about sex and fuckability. When you have a newspaper full of stories about men doing ‘stuff’ like saving cats from trees, getting their dicks stuck in a Gregg’s pasty or running the country, the fact that the largest image of a woman in the whole thing is of her topless and posing seductively is pretty fucked. It screams that no matter what else women might be praised for in the paper, their primary purpose is to be lusted after and to have super perky tits that make the men pant. It is hard to encourage young girls to be ambitious in a society where their worth is still intrinsically linked to how appealing they might be to men; hard to promote ideas of equality when a daily example of sexism, glorified objectification and gender stereotyping exists in a platform that is so easily accessible and marketed as family friendly. I have read so many justifications for keeping the Page 3 section; it’s harmless, it’s traditional, they are JUST BOOBS but none of these sit well with me. Harmless? On the surface, sure; what harm can a pair of tits REALLY do? Tits themselves are awesome, right? They are soft and nice to touch and do stuff like feed a baby and hold up strapless tops. How can a page that celebrates these miracles be bad, I hear men who can’t get laid and know that this is the closest they’ll ever come to a pair of boobs, cry? Having them splashed across a page like this ‘harmlessly’ contributes to rape culture and male entitlement of which we already have a shit load to deal with. It sends a message that women’s bodies are public property, there for the taking. It tells guys that it’s totally cool to stare and lust after our boobs, because isn’t that the point of Page 3? To stare at some boobs? It says that we are fair game for cat calls and street harassment because the overwhelming message being transmitted is that as women, our primary purpose is to look appealing and be found desirable to men. The image is there for nothing other than titillation, to get a guy thinking, ‘cor, I’d love to bang her’ and the nicey nicey way it’s all done makes them think they could. Sure, it’s not pornography – it’s family friendly apparently and that’s cool because we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies and boobs don’t need to be hidden away like top secret government intel BUT it’s the context, the way in which they are represented that’s the issue. Men do sport! Men write about serious things like money and politics and cars and women? Well they stand there with their tits out and a caption saying ‘Cheryl LOVES sausages *wink*’ If your family are reading it, seeing that, what do you think they’re going to take away from their bonding exercise of reading The Sun before school? Oppressive gender roles, male entitlement, women are objects and there for sex is what. The idea that women are inferior and that the needs of men matter more. Traditional; This whole argument is based on the fact that it’s always been that way so you can’t change it. Bullshit. You do know how society progresses and evolves right? If we stuck with tradition, we’d be living in caves, discovering fire and giving birth in fields. Women are supposed to be equal and powerful now; we have the vote, The Equal Pay Act and Nicki Minaj and yet we’re supposed to buy that a national newspaper can’t change Page 3 because TRADITION?  Okay then. They’re just BOOBS; Alright, this is the one that pisses me off the most. Because they’re not just boobs; they are very specific boobs. To be honest, it could just be one pair of boobs with a different head attached each day. WHO KNOWS? page3 All of these women are white, with long hair and a very homogeneous body shape. These aren’t just boobs; they are one type that exist, reprinted every day, over and over. If you want to celebrate tits, DO THAT. Do it by showing breastfeeding instead of demonising it because someone else (aka, not you)  is attached to the nipple and you can’t take that insult to your ego; show women of colour; show lopsided tits; natural; small; massive; fake; women who have had a mastectomy. Don’t pretend to celebrate boobs by showing one pair on repeat and calling it ‘harmless.’ When someone who doesn’t immediately identify with the women in the pictures  (most people, then..) views these images, it could contribute to low self esteem, feeling ‘ugly’ or ‘wrong’ because they don’t match up and plays into the body shaming culture so often seen in The Daily Mail/ every magazine ever. It says that THESE boobs are perfect, what men want, what yours should look like. That isn’t harmless or innocent, or family friendly. It peddles an exclusive, idealistic body type that is unrealistic or unmaintainable for many women ON A DAILY BASIS. sadie   There are lots of things that blow my mind; the fact that The Sun has millions of readers is one of them so to those people saying ‘just avoid it’ – easier said than done. It exists. I don’t have to personally buy a copy of The Sun to have it’s impact felt; that is done in the way in which some men treat women; the way in which we have politicians responding that ‘this particular page is something of a national institution, providing the girls with a job and Sun readers with some light and harmless entertainment.’

It is felt in the way that young girls scrutinise their bodies and feel inadequate due to society’s insistence that we should look a certain way and conform to beauty ideals. It is apparent in the way that men feel entitled to our time, attention and bodies and the way that women share their experiences of sexism on an hourly basis on-line. It isn’t harmless. It is sexism. Glorified, state sponsored, harmful sexism.  What do you think? Follow and tweet me @anygirlfriday  

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In a super clever move, society has managed to convince a lot of us that feminism is bad – mention the term in public and watch people recoil in horror as if you just whispered that you get off from throwing puppies from railway bridges in your spare time. Feminists are angry women, who don’t wear bras or shave right? They hate men, don’t they? Aren’t feminists those lesbians who can’t get a man so bitch and moan about it? Side eye x a million. Feminism has somehow been saddled with a ton of prerequisites that er, don’t actually exist. There isn’t a gift box that arrives the moment you declare yourself a feminist stuffed with a stick on merkin, some dungarees and The L Word  box-set and yet we see people falling over themselves to label feminism as ‘dangerous,’ ‘anti men’ ‘anti feminine’ and ‘hateful.’

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On twitter there are hashtags dedicated to anti feminism - they tend to be full of angry men claiming that they’d never date a feminist (as if they’d get the chance..) and women holding up signs that say things like ‘I don’t need feminism because I like men,’ or ‘ I am against feminism because I believe in equality.’ Both of these groups make me sigh – the first hold a lot of power and speak from a privileged platform by default of being men and have an easier time convincing society that they are right (because hello, centuries of it already) and the second just don’t understand what ‘feminism’ actually is. Add in a Tumblr blog and a Facebook page dedicated to hand made signs slating a movement that gave women the opportunity to have a voice and be heard in the first place and it’s a problem.

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That is it. Feminism literally means wanting equality with men. It means tackling the wage gap that STILL exists despite the introduction of The Equal Pay Act in 1970 and it now being 2014 where women STILL earn less; it means fighting back against the objectification of women in the media – for example, this cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine. Why is Anna naked but Stephen is fully clothed? Bigger question, why is this replicated in and on magazines the world over and not challenged? I often hear men argue that guys are ‘just’ as subject to this as women and my response is always no. Not even close. For women, the objectification and body policing is constant, systematic and often focused in on certain parts, thus rendering the whole woman as redundant in the face of her tits or bum. Men’s bodies are idealised; they are lauded and celebrated as conforming to hegemonic expectations of masculinity – think Beckham in his boxers. I’m not denying that men are subject to scrutiny, and that pressure is increasing BUT it is not on the same scale as what women face daily, hourly.

sexiBeing a feminist isn’t a fad, or trend. It is common sense to me. I can not comprehend a movement like anti feminism that actively opposes equality for women; one opposed to women or to feminism; a person (usually a man) who is hostile to sexual equality or to the advocacy of women’s rights, is how Wikipedia describes the movement. Dismissing a movement that fights for the rights of women to be equal seems as ludicrous as saying no thanks, I don’t need air or anything. I’m totally cool without gravity, ta mate. Food? Nah, you keep it.

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For me, the MRAs trolling the hashtags in search of an argument where they can insert the long words they’ve googled minutes before and Paul Elam quotes, or the angry men who actively trawled through the #feministsareugly to leave horrible comments for the women subverting the misogynistic derailing of the tag don’t bother me that much. OF COURSE some men will be threatened by a movement that seeks to challenge the privileges they’ve benefited from for decades. OF COURSE some men will be threatened by powerful women, not afraid to speak their minds because they’ve grown up in a world where girls are socialised to ‘be seen and not heard.’ To me, those men are scared of change, much like my grandma when I tried to teach her to text and she ended up sending a message to the doctor saying ‘GooD NigHT FroM GRandMA’. No, what hurts my heart is misinterpretation of the term ‘feminism’ and the fact that it is creating girl on girl hate.

love heart sweet with "girl power" written on itI LOVE women. I champion them all the time. My best friends are women, I am inspired on a daily basis by the amazing women on my twitter timeline, I support the rights of women to make whatever choices they want to with regards to their bodies, sexuality, education, family life etc. I think that the combined power and potential of women is both awe inspiring and possible if we just pull together and stop listening to a society that wants us divided and angry at each other instead of the injustices and inequalities at play. When the ‘feminists are ugly’ hashtag was trending, I was full of love for the thriving, goddess like women supporting each other, spreading love and solidarity in the face of the men jumping in to say ‘ugly, wouldn’t bang etc.’

There are no ‘rules’ that come with being a feminist; no code of honour and conduct that you have to sign up to. Bras are completely optional. For me, feminism is when I go for a Brazilian wax safe in the knowledge that if a woman wanted to grow her pubic hair long enough to plait then that choice is equally valid. It’s knowing that it wasn’t my fault when I was raped and understanding that rape culture CAN be tackled. Feminism is when I sunbathe topless, confident in the idea that my choice to show my body should be as respected as the women who cover up. It’s knowing that I can access contraception and it’s the knowledge that no number defines me; not my age, how many sexual partners I have had, how many times I have watched Frozen and sung along to ‘Let it Go’ loudly enough to make my neighbours bang on the wall. It is refusing to stop fighting for an end to FGM or child marriages, refusing to compromise on the rights of women to have full autonomy and reproductive freedom. It is refusing to ignore street harassment or casual sexism. It is supporting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault by campaigning for better funding and support structures. It is getting angry and refusing to support the constant fat phobic, body shaming media that seems to exist solely to keep women in a perpetual cycle of body loathing and consumption of products designed to ‘fix’ constructed issues.

dis1Feminism is tackling slut shaming and the double standards that come with female sexuality – men having casual sex is super cool, but a girl? SLUT. It’s about tackling binary, arbitrary gender roles. It’s about the right to wear what you want; short skirt, long johns, Disney Princess costume to dinner, whatever.

It ISN’T about hating men. It’s nothing to do with wanting female superiority. You can be a happily married, stay at home mum who bakes cakes, wears heels and gets her nails done and still be a feminist.

What do you think? Follow me on twitter @anygirlfriday

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Things that really rile me up; fat phobia, body shaming, pro life thinkers who believe in limiting access to contraception and abortions, companies that create clothes for ‘plus size’ women but rely on the terms ‘flattering,’ ‘slimming’ and ‘contouring’ thus implying that being fat is a terrible thing that needs to be covered up immediately, and slut shaming.

bd6I have a postcard on my wall that says ‘you are capable of so much more than looking hot’ and every day I look at it and smile. I do think I am hot; I love every bit of my body now – - but this revelation came via years of destroying it with eating disorders, long hospital stays and finally, the epiphany that being ‘attractive’ IS A BULLSHIT CONCEPT. It is subjective and dependent and constructed by a society that succeeds and survives by telling us we aren’t good enough so that we spend billions on beauty products/plastic surgery/clothes that promise to ‘flatter,’ and magazines that are little more than masochistic bibles dedicated to tearing women apart whilst pretending to promote body confidence on every page.

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My body is personal; it isn’t public property or there to be politicised or objectified. There is so much to be said on this issue that my brain hurts just thinking about how to articulate it. There are constant debates about access to contraception and abortion, daily tweets and Facebook posts making jokes about female bodies, (just today I have seen fat phobic pictures about women in leggings and a ‘hilarious’ meme about big boobs being the reward for men putting up with us nagging) music videos where men are fully dressed yet the women are inexplicably, pointlessly naked (Yes, Robin Dicke, I am looking at you) and it seems that nothing can be sold without a half naked woman posing seductively or reinforcement of heteronormative gender roles.

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What this all adds up to is the idea that our bodies are somehow up for debate. Public property. That everything we do is fair game to pass comment and judgement on. Terms I hear used to describe women on a daily basis include; fat, thin, bossy, boring, slutty, frigid, bitch, angry, hairy.. you name it, it’s there on someone’s timeline or dripping from their mouths like poison with the sole aim of hitting where it hurts the most; our appearance. That’s the crux of it really – we are discussed so often in terms of our looks that it seems that our self worth/societal value is intrinsically linked to our bodies and how ‘successful’ we are at conforming to those narrow, constructed beauty ideals.

bd5The easiest insult to sling at women is to call them ugly because it plays into the notion that being attractive and fuckable is our primary purpose; men can be successful, smart, strong etc but women? We must be beautiful above all else. When a women articulates a view that deviates from the norm; i.e. anything that challenges or questions the patriarchal state that keeps us earning less, patronised, undervalued and objectified, many people are quick to jump in with the appearance insults. ‘Feminists are ugly’ ‘You should shave your legs.’ ‘You are fat.’ etc Why? Because it’s basic as fuck and appeals to the internalised view we hold that being found attractive is important.

bd1Body hair, abortion, sexual partners, clothes, diet, make up choices, hair style – all topics that people feel justified in wading in and criticising. None of those things have any significance for, or impact on, anyone other than the body involved and yet countless debates, discussions and even policies have been created with those topics up for consideration. Body shaming is rife; hell, The Daily Mail makes a bloody living out of it. It just isn’t the ‘done thing’ to love yourself if you are a women. Everything from our lipstick to our tights, our lunchtime food choices to our Saturday night outfits are designed to make us feel awful under the guise of making us ‘better.’ When your lipstick promises to plump, your tights offer up a flat stomach with their clever contouring panel and your lunchtime snack is ‘all the taste with half the fat!’ it is almost impossible to view yourself positively. Hidden in those happy exclamation marks !! and ‘flawless’ ‘infallible’ ‘younger’ and ‘sexier’ labels is the message that you are not good enough as you are.

The issue is that these claims imply that an ideal body type exists and that we should be striving for it. Bombarded with the conflicting messages that we a) need to be beautiful to be valued yet it’s made clear that b) beauty is an unattainable goal, open to interpretation and subject to change at any given point. Looking at it this way, it’s easy to conclude that as women, we are trapped.

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The trick is to subvert it all; love yourself. Stop reading magazines that make you feel less than the goddess you are. Stop batting away compliments or responding with a self deprecating put down. Tell yourself everyday that you are worth a thousand times more than the trashboys who tell you they wouldn’t ‘bang you’ on twitter because you are ‘ugly.’ (aka; you disagreed with something they said and they aren’t clever enough to form a comeback that doesn’t involve putting down your appearance) Remember that you are incredible, integral and that your identity is valid.

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