How Social Media Has Helped Empower Women

Here we are again. Social media. Most of us have it, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn, Bebo (ah, those were the days). The list goes on. We rely and depend it on really on a daily basis, with so many of us glued to our phones. What did we ever do without it? TALK to each other? Perish the thought.

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Social media hasn’t just provided us with ways to connect with new people and interact with friends and families no matter when or where they are. It hasn’t just enabled the government to collect an abundance of personal data and keep tabs on where we are, who we’re with and what we’re doing. It hasn’t just given us ways to stalk our exes and judge their new partners. It’s also given women platforms and opportunities which have helped empower them, enabling them to speak up and be heard. Or ‘read’, rather.

Social media gives women a channel to speak out about their personal experiences and share them with others. From something trivial like what they ate for breakfast (who honestly cares?) to more pressing issues like their experience on the train that morning. That last one wasn’t a sarcastic comment (for once). Women are sexually assaulted on public transport on an alarming and disturbing scale. So much so that the British Transport Police have launched a TV campaign urging women to report it.

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Hashtags such as #TimesUp, #WhenIWas and #MeToo among others have provided women with a channel to speak up and share their sexual assault experiences. Women share things that they have kept built up for months, years, decades without telling anyone. So why are they tweeting about it?

Everyone has their own reasons, to generalise would be unfair. But here are a few common ones:

1) They feel as though they have a voice and their story is heard

2) It’s easier to type than say face-to-face. We’re all guilty of resorting to messaging rather than doing something in person, because you can to some degree reduce confrontation, embarrassment, and rejection.

3) The audience.

4) There’s a degree of anonymity which gives extra confidence and reduces potential embarrassment or fear.

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This was the least creepy ‘being anonymous online’ photo I could find

If you’re going to report an incident to someone, who do you go to? Your friend? Family? What are they going to do? They can’t (legally) punish the perpetrator. So, go to the police? What if they don’t believe you? Do you have evidence? Witness statements? Did you somehow manage to capture this on video? A signed confession and DNA samples? No? Oh. Well, then, hmm, that’s tough. How do you know you’ve told the right person? What if you haven’t, will the message be passed on?

Few women report incidences of sexual, physical, or emotional/psychological abuse. Sadly, the criminal justice system has failed so many of these. What do you do when you’re not being listened to and being ignored by those supposed to help you? Go elsewhere. So we go online. We tweet about. We tell everyone. Maybe we’ll be listened to when the problem is so big that it can’t be ignored. Do you think one woman coming forward inspired a national campaign about sexual assault on public transport? Sadly, the police want numbers. They want ‘big’ numbers. How many women have posted their experiences online? How many of them do you think would go to a police station and report it there? In person, a woman can speak about her problem. But thanks to social media, women, as a collective group, can shout about it.

Now just say the police do choose to ignore this (imagine that !!), even though they do have a ‘big’ number and evidence. Do you think Twitter can ignore it just as easily? These admissions are liked, favourited, retweeted and shared. Most likely millions of people have seen at least one of these entries. We all know that once something is online, it’s there forever (dun dun dun). Yes, that goes for those photos of you when you went through your ‘nobody understands me’ goth phase. And your full fringe phase *shudders* – don’t worry, we all had one.

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Why stop one perpetrator and try to change their behaviour, when you can try to stop and change the behaviour of a whole society? Social media is making a massive audience aware of these issues and incidents which have sadly become normalised, and a taboo. It gives a glimpse into others’ lives and what lets us understand and get an idea of things we may have had no idea even happened.

Being able to share these stories means that women can see that they’re not alone. Which, in a way is sad because it shows the scale of how many people are subjected to such horrendous behaviour, and how often it happens. Women can find support and reassurance from total strangers, people who have absolutely no loyalty to them. You know if you tell your best friend something that they’re going to have your back; so having strangers treat you this way is in a way more reassuring because they’re less likely to comfort or support you if it’s undeserved.

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So, despite the issues and negative impact social media has had on women in today’s society, some good has come of it. Good in the form of empowerment. Women have spent too long being silenced, so post a photo of your breakfast, take your duck-face selfies, share your experiences. You go gurl. *sassy click*

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How to Act: A Girl’s Guide

Well, here are we again. A sequel to my How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide. I’d say it’s due to popular demand, but really I just have a lot of built-up feelings on the matter. This ‘guide’ is about how girls should act and behave. After all, there’s no point looking the part if you can’t play it, right? So, grab your notebook and a pen, and get ready for some valuable little tips and lessons.

 

General Behaviour:

Bat your eyes at any opportunity. It keeps your eyes clear of dirt and makes you look endearing. Not too much though, you don’t want to look like you’re having a spasm or twitch.

Smile. At all times. If your face doesn’t hurt you’re not smiling hard enough. Imagine you’ve got string attached to the corners of your mouth which is being pulled. In serious or sadder situations, ‘smize’ (smile with your eyes), because you should always appear bright and lively.

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Don’t show extreme emotions. You must remain calm and collected at all times. If you get angry, you’ll be considered a ‘bitch’; if you’re crying, you’ll only make those around you uncomfortable. If you’re too happy or excited, you’ll be considered loud and “in your face”. In case of emergencies when you accidentally let your emotions get the better of you (rookie mistake), blame it on hormones. Or your period.

Act ditzy. Men think it’s cute, and you seem more fun. Not too ditzy though, or you’ll be called an ‘airhead’. If you happen to be blonde, brace yourself for some really great jokes coming your way. In the rare case that you are in fact smart, don’t let people know. It’s emasculating and belittling. Why would you want to lower others’ self esteem? Don’t correct others if they’re wrong, either – it’s embarrassing for them. Besides, nobody likes a ‘know-it-all’.

 

Speaking:

Don’t raise your voice. This is sort of a mute point because you’ll only speak when spoken to, so you’ll be given adequate time to respond. If you’re not given an opportunity to respond, then your input clearly isn’t wanted.

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Don’t question anything. It only undermines people, you wouldn’t want to do that now, would you? The only questions you should ask are: “What?”, “Can you help me?”, “What do you want for dinner?”and “How was work, honey?”

Always support your partner’s ideas. Tell him that remortgaging the house to invest in capital bonds is a great idea. Why would you want to make him sad? Besides, I hear “Brexit” is doing wonders for the economy, so it could be a great time to invest.

Laugh at your own expense. If you make a mistake (which you likely will, you are a woman after all), the best way to recover is to make a little joke blaming it on your gender. Some favourites which never fail are: “Well, that’s what happens when you let me out of the kitchen!”, “I should’ve stuck to making sandwiches!” or “Too busy thinking about shoes!” If you make a mistake at work, don’t beat yourself up about it. You’re getting paid 18% less than your male colleagues, so less is expected of you anyway.

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Physical Behaviour:

Cross your legs. Always sit with your legs crossed. Don’t ask why, you just do. You get used to the knee pain.

Don’t open doors. Stand outside and wait until someone else comes along and opens it for you. Don’t you know that doors are heavy? You could snap your little elbows.

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Look at this smart gal patiently waiting to get into work

Don’t carry heavy items, wait for someone to help you. It’s not safe, and men feel more masculine when they have to help. Plus, you could end up breaking a nail, yikes.

Don’t drive. You’ll be a horrible driver. You can’t parallel park and you’ll only spend the whole time looking at yourself in that wee mirror. Plus, airbags will take all your lovely makeup clean off your face. Now, wouldn’t that be a shame?

-Sidenote: There’s an impressive amount of stock images there are of women doing this. These are just my faves. And the few without ‘Shutterstock’ plastered all over them.

Ignore unwanted physical contact. Don’t confront others, they might harm you. It’s better to keep your head down, say nothing and walk away. You could report it, but would you want to get someone in trouble over a bit of miscommunication?

 

Work:

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Bangin’ tune, dontcha think?

Earn less than your partner – do not become more professionally successful. This means not applying for promotions or jobs which require qualifications. Not that you should have any qualifications. Better yet, don’t get a job. The home won’t make itself after all.

Don’t ask for a pay rise. You would get paid more if you deserved it. The fact you’re even allowed to work is privilege, don’t be ungrateful.

Don’t go for promotions either. You’ll never be picked as your male colleagues are much more qualified and better suited. You’d only be wasting your employer’s and colleagues’ time. Just get a job where there are no career building opportunities, problem solved.

 

Home (where you belong):

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Keep the house clean and tidy. Well nobody likes mess, silly.

Be maternal. You should be able to stop a crying child within 3 seconds. You must of course want children, a career is no goal for any sane lady. Your body was made to procreate and give life. It would be sinful to waste this.

Make a continental breakfast every morning. Ensure you have croissants, fruit salad, pancakes and orange juice ready on the table. Your family will only ever ignore these and have a piece of toast on their way out, but isn’t it nice to have choice? It’s not like you have anything else to be at anyway.

 

Eating Out:

Choose your food carefully. If you order something fatty or calorific, people will pull faces and make comments like “I like a girl that can eat” which makes it seem like you shouldn’t be ordering it. But, if you order something healthy like a salad, people will pull faces and pass comments about how it’s “rabbit food”. You can’t win, really. It’s safer to stay at home. I’m sure you make a lovely roast, anyway.

Which reminds me, don’t order “the chips”. You may want chips, but if you order them, people will say things like “Oh, you’re having chips?” “Cheat day today then?” “How many syns is that?”, order something else, like the salad. And have a few of your companions chips. I’m sure they won’t mind.

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Oh. Maybe they will..

 

There you go, folks. Now you know how to act like a proper lady! These are basically some of the things that women spend their whole lives being told. Think I’m being dramatic? Well I don’t. Then again, I’ve grown up seeing these ‘rules’ everywhere, so I don’t really notice them anymore.

 

How to Dress: A Girl’s Guide

Well ladies, there is an abundance of beauty standards and ‘rules’ for us to follow. This means choosing what to wear and how to look can be really hard and pretty damn confusing. Luckily for you, I’ve made a wee guide of basic beauty do’s and don’t’s to help keep yourself right. You’re welcome.

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Me, before choosing to rewear one of my 3 staple outfits

Hair: Men like blondes, they’re more fun. But it’ll make you seem stupid and like a bimbo. Brunette? Eugh, how boring. Red head? They’re fiesty and fiery, but, well, that’d make you a “ginger”, yikes. Black? Hmm, emo. A bright colour? Well that’d just make you an attention seeker, wouldn’t it.

You shouldn’t have grey hair, it’ll show your age. If you do, dye it. But not noticeably. You don’t want to look like you’re in denial of your age. Your (not grey) hair should be long, because short hair is for boys. Duh. It should also be healthy and shiny. People should be able to see their reflections in it.

Makeup: Wear it at all times, but it shouldn’t look like you’re wearing makeup. You don’t want to look caked or tacky, do you? It should also be done perfectly. But don’t spend too long in front of the mirror; always looking at yourself makes you seem very self absorbed, you see.

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Nails: They should be perfectly manicured; preferably nude or French. Not red. You don’t want to look like a prostitute, do you? And don’t bite them either, honey; it’s a disgusting habit.

Lips: They should be large and full. If you have fine lips, you can get fillers. But it shouldn’t be noticeable, you don’t want to look like a blow up doll, do you? You can always overline them, but, only if no one will know it’s fake. People will judge you, you Kardashian wannabe.

Boobs: You should have large breasts. This has be natural of course, getting cosmetic surgery will only make you look like a page 3 girl. Who do you think you are, Pamela Anderson?

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Pamela Anderson, not you.

Note: If your boobs are too big, no matter what you wear, it’ll look like you’re trying to “get them out”. People will think it’s an invitation to stare at them and pass crude comments. If they’re too small, people will pass comments and call you things like “pancake tits”. Don’t stuff your bra, though. That’s seen as desperate.

Clothes: They should attract but not invite attention. It wouldn’t be fair to make a man think he can touch you if you don’t want him to. Why would you want to send him mixed signals?

You should wear revealing clothes that show off your body. But not too revealing, that’d make you a slut. Choose outfits carefully, don’t you know your clothes apparently determine whether or not you consent to having sex? You mighn’t realise it, but you could be “asking for it”.

Bras: You should wear bras which show off your assets, men love boobs, ya see. But don’t wear a push-up bra, that’s very misleading. Underwire bras are hella uncomfortable, but they give you a nicer shape. Besides, who doesn’t love getting searched at airport security? Beep.

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Underwear: Choose these carefully, too. Briefs are always a safe bet, but these are so-called “granny pants” and cause a VPL (visible pant line). You shouldn’t have a VPL, so thongs are suitable. Then again, wearing these apparently equals sexual consent, so don’t wear them if you don’t want to sleep with someone. Do you see why you have to choose carefully?

Note: Your underwear may end up being used as evidence in court, so make sure they’re pretty.

Shoes: Wear high heels, these make your bum look more pert and your legs longer, you know. But not too high, you’re not a stripper for God’s sake. And don’t even think about wearing trainers, catch yourself on. Wearing high heels may lead to foot problems such as bunions, but, well, beauty is pain.

Tan: You should have a nice glow so you don’t look sick or anaemic. But not too dark, you don’t want to look fake, of course. And nobody likes that smell. I don’t care what the label says, that’s not “coconut”.

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Handbag: Carry one at all times, your pockets are merely for decoration. This bag must hold all of the essentials that others may need: a tissue, paracetamol, tampons, mints etc. You also need enough room to carry your partner’s possessions too. You don’t want him to have carry these around needlessly, do you?

Wrinkles: You shouldn’t have any wrinkles. You don’t want to look old, do you? If you decide to get botox or dermal fillers (which is pretty vain of you, frankly), it shouldn’t be noticeable. You have to try to revert the natural aging process, but it shouldn’t look like it, silly. Yes, there are anti-wrinkle creams, but do you need to waste so much money on those weird potions? Eugh.

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Attractiveness: Be more attractive than your partner. People have to think he’s lucky to have you. Don’t go out with someone more attractive than you, you don’t want people thinking he could do better.

Physique: You should be physically fit, with a firm and toned body. But you shouldn’t be muscular, it’s manly and you don’t want people to think you’re on steroids. Men don’t like muscular women either, so put down the weights and pick up the dish cloth, love.

Over-all appearance: Your body is a temple vessel. You are a show piece, a display only. You must always look pristine, but don’t take longer than 20 minutes to get ready. Its not fair to leave people waiting for you. Dress for your audience. Think not what you want to wear, but they want you to wear.

Well, I lied (there’s a first time for everything). This wasn’t really a “guide” for girls, it was more a “this is all the crap we have to put up with on a daily basis” for men. In case you didn’t get that. It’s very hard to get the tone right for these things, you see. And, I have mastered the art of subtly and subliminal messaging, so don’t beat yourself up if you didn’t notice the hints of sarcasm and passive-aggression laden throughout.

But yeah, I didn’t actually tell girls anything here. Because society already tells them these things every day. So next time you even THINK about complaining or asking us why we take so long to get ready, here’s your answer

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The “F” Word

Bet that got your attention, eh?

Feminism.

What other word would I be talking about? Shame on you.

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Recently, I bought a book about feminism, and reading it made me realise how, for someone who considers themselves to be a ‘feminist’, there’s so much I actually don’t know about the history and topic itself. I then proceeded to buy 4 books on the subject because I wanted to learn a bit more (and I couldn’t choose between them). While reading it, I realised that there is no one type of ‘feminism’ – everyone has their own individual experience and views. It’s not “you’re either this type of feminist, or you’re not a feminist” – it’s the same way that no two people of the same religion have exactly the same religious views/opinions. It’s a very personal thing, and everyone has their own ways of being a feminist.

Yes, there’s the old “Oh so you’re a feminist but you want your dates to pay for your stuff? Doesn’t seem very equal to me.” Well, who doesn’t want free stuff? Pretty sure you’d rather not have to pay for your food either like.

And yes, I like having doors held open for me. I don’t care who holds the door, I just don’t want it hitting my face.

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But anyway, this is basically some of what feminism[s] mean to me.

It means not having to change my name when if I get married. Getting married (if anyone should be so lucky) doesn’t change me or who I am, it doesn’t make me any less “me” and any more my husband. To me, my name represents who I am and what me and my family have been through. If he doesn’t have to change his name, why should I? I’m still me, just with a ring on my finger. I know many people choose to take their partner’s names, and that’s perfectly fine, at the end of the day it’s a choice, and that’s enough for me.

It means identifying as ‘Ms’. On forms and accounts, I tick the ‘Ms’ box, because it’s nobody’s business whether I’m married or not – what difference does it make? What has my ~questionable~ relationship history or status got to do with anything? To me, if a man doesn’t have to state his marital status, then I sure as hell don’t.

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It means not having to choose between having a career or children. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. I don’t want to have to make a decision on which of the two is more important to me, I have a right to have both. Paternal leave to me means that both parents should have equal opportunities to be with their family, and be at work. I want my cake (preferably carrot), and I want to eat it to, please agus thank you.

It means being able to support myself and live independently, not needing a man to “look after me” *que Ne-Yo ‘Miss Independent’*. It means not having to rely on someone else to be able to apply for a mortgage or a bank loan, or have enough money to eat and live comfortably. I don’t want whether or not I live with someone, to decide whether or not I live.

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It means having an education and a career. I am so lucky to have grown up in a time and place where I had equal access to education as males. I know that so many others aren’t as lucky as I am, with millions of girls never setting foot in a school in their lives. I’m so lucky to have been presented with the opportunities I have been, which have enabled me to receive an education and go to university and work. I want the choice and option to choose my future.

It means having opinions and being able to express them. Whether or not views and opinions matter should be based on the merit of what is said, not who says it. Being listened to is a whole other story.

It means supporting other women. It means raising others up, even if it’s something as small as commenting ‘YASSSSS QUEEN’ on an Instagram photo, or telling that stranger in the nightclub toilets that her highlight is “poppin'”. It’s so important to support each other, instead of making everything a competition and tear each other down. Don’t insult your ex’s new girlfriend, feel sorry for the poor girl.

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It means believing in equal domestic responsibilities. Your gender shouldn’t define what you do around the house. All to often, females are subjected to the homemaker role- taking on the majority of cooking, cleaning and childcare responsibilities. I’m not saying that females shouldn’t do any of these, I’m saying that these roles should be shared. Take it in turns, do half each – I don’t think it should be ‘who does what’, but ‘who does what this time‘. Basically, make your own sandwich. And do the dishes after. Merci.

This is just a very brief summary of some of the views I have on the subject, and you may disagree with them, and that’s fine. These are MY opinions which I hold based off MY experiences. I’m not trying to make you share these views, just respect them and understand why I hold them.