Tag Archives: slutshaming

Look, don’t touch.

So.. going to take a moment to discuss the idea of male privilege. I realise that it is amongst many terms that are floating around our general consciousness at the moment.

But it is one that is to digress, misunderstand and to an extent is dismissed. But what is it and why am I among others, concerned with it.

Well, just now I watched a show where a man sued a women (unsuccessfully) for various reasons, and stated that he had a sexual relationship. He was referred to as a ‘sugar daddy’. He went on to say that while she was in his employ, he would ask to touch her and she would reply with ‘$60, $100’ etc for him to do so.

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That, that is male privilege. I have persona experience, the worst was being approached by someone near a mosque that my employers went during office hours, and I had assumed he had attended. I was on my way to work and he stopped me to ask about my boobs. At 8am on a weekday morning. I was a little taken aback. He asked what size they were and if he could touch them. I initially thought he was joking, and he then offered to pay me, upping the amount before I could finally extract myself from the situation that was rapidly escalating while I was also concerned that my employers would see this. I will admit, a small part of me wanted to take the money and think, fuck it. 

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This, this is what it is all about. Women are blamed in this transaction for allowing a man to touch them. Sorry, no, they are blamed for taking money. They are blamed for creating a situation where men can offer them money. And you know what, I can see why a woman would do it, it is easy money and while it is a quick boob cup, it is fairly harmless. But it is women are blamed for creating an environment where men pay them to touch their assets. Men are not blamed for assuming that it is okay to ask to touch a women inappropriately, and indeed, when asking does not get the answer they wanted, offering money. Or goods, or services.

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Of course, as with anything else, when someone suggests such a thing as Male Privilege even exists, the defensive back lash starts. Things like women being accused of being controlling or privileged for not wanting to have sex with this partner, but suggesting they have a headache. The counter argument is that a women cannot simply say no, she doesn’t fancy it, or she is tired, no, the only way out is to say she is ill. A simple no is not enough. Why not? Because Male Privilege dictates that a woman shouldn’t or couldn’t possibly have any reason to deny her partner. The Alpha Male, the head of the house. 

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Rape – rape is the escalation of Male privilege, where if a man is denied sex through normal means – dating, buying, or being emasculated, angry and wanting to exact revenge. It can be on a partner, a friend, a stranger. It can be premeditated or spur of the moment. I won’t quote statistics as we all know that they are an unreliable source of information. Instead I will just go through things that I have come accross over the years, one example that keeps coming back to me, and I believe is not isolated, is a judge in Italy throwing out a rape case because the woman was wearing tight fitting jeans. He ruled that it would have been to difficult for the perpetrator to have removed the jeans without her help, and therefore she must have been agreeable. 

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Lets look at the stereotype of the rape victim, that it is a girl dressed provocatively, who is suggesting by her attire that she wishes to have sex, and drinks excessively so therefore isn’t able to control herself or be responsible for her actions. It is certainly the excuse used in the Stanford Rape case that made headlines earlier this year. One thing that you will find when searching for this rape case, is unlike a lot of other cases, it is the male perpetrator and not the victim that is named. Brock Turner made headlines for the leniency of the sentence he received. There was certainly a split in the reporting, Male Privilege abound as there was sympathy for him, for his loss of scholarship at Stanford University and that he would no longer be going to the Olympics. That he should be given special consideration because he was the fastest swimmer. 

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He blames the culture and environment at the University for his actions, that he was merely the product of an environment of drinking, peer pressure, and promiscuity. That, in fact, he isn’t at fault here, it was bound to happen, because everyone was doing it. How was he to know that by jumping at a woman at random she hadn’t also read the memo and was not a more than willing partner. Of course this is not what happened, he blames a culture or drinking and loose morals. But what he did was not talk to a girl at a party and invite her back to look at his etchings (I blame my mother for that turn of phrase) but he either followed her, or happened on her outside, and forced himself on her by a dumpster. And when he was found by passers by, ran off. 

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This case is prominent for many reasons, the victim has chosen to remain anonymous – and this is her reasoning ‘That’s the beauty of it. I don’t need labels, categories, to prove I am worthy of respect, to prove that I should be listened to’ – what she means is that we are going to treat her as a victim of a crime, we are not going to go through her social media profiles, look at her face, we are not going to base reporting on what she looks like, how she dresses, what her skin colour is, what dress size she is. We are going to base our analysis of her purely on what she represents, a victim. It is a powerful statement. And one that is a direct juxtaposition to the treatment of the perpetrator of the crime. 

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So what is Male Privilege – a small part of it, but I hope it gives you an understanding of why it upsets people. And why it is something that needs to be changed. Women are not merely objects, they are not here to entertain men, they are able to enjoy sex, but equally are allowed to say no. Women are allowed to dress how they please, woman should be able to wear as little or as much as they want. They should be able to drink as much or as little as they wish and not worry about falling victim to a crime. Although interestingly – it is more often that women are attacked outside the environment we imagine – they are walking home from work, out jogging, open the door to a stranger. Male privilege is the idea that a man expects to be able to touch a women. That a women is a trophy to be bought with gifts or money. That women are the cause of this, women started this. That a women created the environment where they expect financial reward for men being in their company, touching them, taking things further. I would change the conversation to suggest that men assume that given enough money, they can have and or do as they please. That money is the answer, that women are just another product or service that can be paid for. Which to me, makes it feel that women are not equal in their eyes. That women are just something else to be bought.

Fit for danger

So last night a friend shared a diet that was followed by an actress in preparation for a film role. Having followed various links on same subject it is easy to see how quickly the initial article has been disseminated in to the wider world, with the message becoming blurred.

The reason my friend shared it was her concern over young girls coming accross this article, and more like it and influencing them. Girls look toward images presented to them in the various mediums, whether it is via social media, TV, film, magazines for idea of what they should look like. As girls grow up, they look around, outside their own immediate family, and peer group to understand what is normal, social norms, what is considered attractive.

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When you are told a diet that works is 80% just fruit and veg with the images next to it of the actress having lost 12 lbs … it sounds like the perfect solution. It seems deceptively simple and easy to stick to. So of course, this will be a great idea to shift those imaged layers of fat. But it is a diet. Diets are short term. Many athletes use diets when training. You only have to follow someone like Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson on social media to understand the importance diet has when training. Actually please follow him, he genuinely is an inspiration.

We see it all the time as well on shows like Strictly Come Dancing, where the contestants lose weight, but what is actually happening is that they are toning up. Because they are dancing around 8 hours a day 5 or 6 days a week including the performances. This isn’t something most people will be able to replicate. It is an unrealistic look for people to attain.

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We need to change what we present to people, instead of advertising a quick fix, maple syrup diets, 80% diets that work in short terms, CRASH diets by any other name as a normal, and healthy way to get the body you want. Instead of focusing on the shape and size of the body, the focus should be on healthy living, doing things that make you happy and finding passion in your life, about spending time outside, finding a sport that you enjoy and doing it with friends, about healthy choices with food. It shouldn’t be about the size of your waist, thigh gaps, how prominent your hips or rib cage is.

The focus should be on healthy attitudes and eating, on being healthy, active and moderation. Of course there will always be sensational articles and sales pitches to do something quickly, to cheat, articles will be misquoted and torn up to suit an agenda. But if we can change the conversation so that teenagers see messages that are predominantly positive, so they are going to be able to make more educated choices about their life, so they are able to make more informed choices. So your body is not the most important thing in all transactions.

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The Naked Effect

So, you may or may not be aware, but Kim Kardashian posted a series of naked selfies on line a few weeks ago. The first titled ‘when your like, I have nothing to wear’ which has resulted in a number of other celebrities following suit, including Sharon Osborne. Now don’t get my wrong, I am not a fan of the Kardashians, their life style or the environment that created them. But I have a lot of time for what the photo did, what it has done and hopefully what it will continue to do (hopefully).

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What plays on my mind is that one of my favourite artists , Pink has already condemned the selfie, although not naming anyone directly. And let us remember her song on the matter Stupid Girls You Tube Link which she illustrated her feelings on the matter rather eloquently. But I am I getting ahead of myself, her feelings on what? On using your body, and not your brain to get what you need/want/desire. Pink has long made a stand against the conventional and expected and beaten her own path, in her work and in her personal life. She is a fantastic role model for women of all ages, tackling some pretty hard topics in her music. I adore Pink. I really do.

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But on the matter of naked selfies, she is wrong. Now I am going to sidestep the issue of whether or not Mrs K W is a feminist at the moment (as it will be looked at in another blog) and just look at what she has done. She has empowered women to share their self. No makeup, no hiding, sharing a photo of yourself in a mirror selfie is pretty empowering. A while a go there was a thread in a group I spend a lot  of time. It was basically a middle finger to haters, but it was so empowering, everyone posted a mirror selfie either naked or in underwear. I was not confident enough to bare all. But I have to say it had such a strong, community spirit that I joined in wearing my undies.

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So yes, while I guess, there is a lot to be said about someone in a position of power, using that platform for good. And that should be with strong, empowering messages – stay in school, eat healthy, think positive, don’t drink and drive. But can we just hold on a moment. Just .. imagine, for a moment, that a woman looks in the mirror, and… you may want to sit down for this… DOESN’T HATE WHAT SHE SEES! What if a woman, who is famous, thinks, you know what, I am going to share my confidence in my own body with everyone. I am going to put this publicly, I am going to be in control of the images of my body, I will call the shots, and share what I want and how I want it. What if girls, and women, start being able to see that their body and its image is for their own consumption. And that by appreciating their own body, self love, by being able to objectively look at the image and see what is beautiful about it. By seeing the result of those gym sessions is paying off, by seeing the tiger marks, by realising that while their body isn’t perfectly formed, it is perfect for them.

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What if girls and women, learn that the female form is nothing to be ashamed off, it isn’t slutty to think you look good, to see that we come in all shapes and sizes. Not to feel embarrassed, to learn to look in the mirror, to love what you see. I may be reading too much into Kim K’s motivation for sharing THAT selfie, but isn’t interpretation what is comes down to. What conversation it starts, how it effects people and how minds change?

So, while I love Pink, I am sorry this time, I don’t agree with you!

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Update: Since first starting this blog post – i am not sure how obvious it is, but often I have several unfinished blog posts on the go, so it can take up to a month for me to publish a blog…. Kim K just released another topless selfie, this time with a friend. I fully commend her, and her sense of humour 🙂

Now, I want to share my beautiful friends page, Haelin Rayne is a beautiful person inside and out – if you want to see more of her work : Click Here below are some images she recently took with Absolute Images, which I adore! Celebrate the female form, it is stunning! 

Haters, gonna hate!

Life on line

So this is something I am writing on the back of an incident I witnessed this week. I play MMORPG’s – as I have probably mentioned, and WOW is one of my favourites and I have been playing for over 10 years.

This week, in one of the groups that I am in on WOW, a kid started a thread about how upset he was that he had been banned from wow. It then transpired that he had been due to language he used, and sexual harassment toward other players in game. When people commenting on the thread were not sympathetic to his situation, he turned to racial slurs, death threads and wishing people would ‘die’ – and this was just what was being posted on the thread and not what was being privately messaged to people.

A member of the group messaged the kids uncle and explained what had happened, and updated us to say that the kids mother had contacted the police to have a chat with him.

And this is where it started unravelling. I had passively watched it all happen to this point (sometimes your voice does not need to be added to a situation) but felt motivated to speak when it was suggested that contacting the parents (or family members) was too much.

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Comments where made in the group that people over stepped the mark, that it was just ‘a kid’ being ‘a kid’ and ‘its just a game’.

Okay. Let us just stop RIGHT THERE. This is not a gender issue either – this is an issue of boundaries, manners and respect. The fact someone was so incensed by a situation on a game – and therefore something intangible – was not something to be dismissed. That he then lacked the social skills to deal with criticism, constructive or otherwise and the only way he could react was lashing out. But it was more than that – it was the language used, the threats.

If you are not going to say it to someone face, it shouldn’t be said on line. The anonymity that the internet offers, is both good and bad. It allows people freedom, you can avoid judgements, have another life, but on the other hand, people quickly find themselves either saying or doing things they would never normally do because the mask is in place, or they find themselves victims of bullying, sexual harassment, and stalking. Because it is in line and not so easily quantified, people don’t feel that it can be reported in the same way. 

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Another point made in the threads about the afore mentioned FB post is that if it is reported to the police it would ruin the kids life. I would suggest that if he is under 16, and this is a first offence, the only thing that is likely to happen is that he gets a visit and a chat about what consequences could be in the hope that it knocks some sense in him.

As an adult though, being aware of what you are putting on line is much more important – I don’t know about you, but when I was at school it was drilled into me that my actions while in uniform could and would be help up for inspection. This is the same in my working life, I can’t comment on things directly relating to my work, my job. I can’t share views, I can’t (and shouldn’t) make disparaging comments about co workers and employers. This may seem like common sense but the internet, and moreover social media blew up so quickly that employers were caught on the back foot but many employees now find themselves signing confidentiality agreements that include what and what is not acceptable to write online.

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This is another reason, many, like myself, hide behind made up names, and then you have people who because of work, known under different guises, models, actors, personalities who need and want to keep their work and their personal life separate. 

This doesn’t guarantee you won’t be tracked down. It doesn’t mean that you won’t have people putting two and two together to find your actual profile – although with facebook these days, you may find it suggesting your actual profile to people who are friends with your work profile. But I digress, putting yourself out there publicly means that you are likely to get complete strangers commenting on things you share… which is what happened here :

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Now, I happened to post this on my personal profile and have this morning had a conversation with a friend on how children act ‘these days’ and how there needs to be be more parental responsibility but I have to say, I don’t think that is entirely true. What I was trying to illustrate is that it is easy to hide on line, and so many different forums, pages, social media devices now that parents may genuinely struggle – especially those not so technically savvy. With life the way it is, working longer hours, often commuting, spending less real time with your children. I would suggest that children may not be worse, and parents are more lax, it is just that things are moving much faster now.

What I really want to say, after waffling on somewhat in this blog – is that we need to report things. Don’t just brush things off as ‘boys being boys’ or ‘its just a game’ … ‘they are just words’ … ‘stop being so sensitive’.

If you have comments directed at you publicly, or privately, or you see it happening, please don’t feel you shouldn’t report it. It doesn’t matter what age the poster is. It isn’t acceptable, and the longer people feel they are getting away with it, the more it legitimises their actions and make them become normalised. It then colours the entire environment and social interactions therein. It will have a knock on effect on other interactions that what people feel is acceptable. Not only that, everyone should feel safe, if you don’t feel safe, mention it to friend, report it, take it to the police. Don’t ever feel silly doing it.

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Body Shaming

So body shaming, fat shaming, skinny shaming, slut shaming… it is all the same thing. It is taking a physical attribute and passing comment about it. Looking back at previous blog posts that somehow never quite made it to published.. it is just something that keeps giving. Below is a screen shot from my FB page – it was something I posted a year ago.

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Body shaming has been around in one form or another for as long as we can recall. Longer maybe. The ability for one woman to make another feel bad is limitless. As is a man to make a woman question her worth. And let us not forget, sex only sells when the object remains an object.

So is it just about sex? I really do hate to be crude, but on some level almost everything we do is to do with sex, or our need to appear desirable to others. So shaming another person by commenting on their size, is one way of deflecting negativity onto them.

But why, why is this worse that commenting on a poor wardrobe choice? (and I am the queen of poor wardrobe choices) Well, if my friend says to me, ‘Gill, I love your bold use of colour today, but maybe try sticking to a maximum of 3 in any one outfit’. That is fine, it is something easily taken on board, and you can adjust your future wardrobe choices with this constructive criticism in mind. But to comment on someone’s wardrobe choice, by calling them, slutty, asking for it, barely there, whorish (and I won’t go on but you get the idea) isn’t constructive. Sure, you are passing your opinion but really how is that helpful. Does it really matter if it isn’t to your taste, and why do you think they should care. There is a big different between offering some constructive feedback (although not always warranted or welcomed tbh) and just blurting out the first thing that comes to mind.

For me, worse than commenting on how someone is choosing to present themselves to the world – commenting on body type. We have all seen the bikini ‘meme’ – ‘how to achieve a bikini body, get a bikini, put it on’. And it really is that simple. The size of the body wearing the bikini is beside the point and actually none of your business. What makes it worse, for me, is that it is a lot harder to change something. Telling people to one the one hand ‘eat a beefburger’ is as helpful and hurtful as telling them to ‘stop eating all the burgers’. While to some it may be a logical, and simple sum – more/less food in will result in a more desirable body shape.

But it isn’t easy, whatever way you are approaching the situation, you are naturally slender, and find it difficult to put on weight. How do you think it feels to be constantly told you need to eat more fried food?! And if you are already at a larger body weight (I won’t use BMI because I am not a fan) then simply not eating doesn’t work. These things are not quick fixes, they are not something the person hasn’t considered every time they dress, when they catch themselves in the mirror, when they see you looking at them.

Everyone is going through things that a not visible, and frankly none of your business. They don’t want or need your judgement. I am not saying you cannot think these things, you are welcome to. I am not for a moment suggesting you repress your natural inclination or reaction to a person or situation. But just take a moment to think before saying something to them, either online or to their face. If you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all.

Side note : I want to touch on a subject getting a lot of press at the moment, and that is ‘plusisequal’ and various other plus size promoting that is going on at the moment. The fact is a lot of events still use models who are size 12/16 at the very most. Which is a massive slap in the face to ladies who are larger and would like to see how these fashions will realistically fall on their bodies. There is still the issue of needing to look desireable at a larger size, so if you are not rocking the hourglass look, you are just not the right , size, plus size. At the end of the day, every person should be able to wear what they want, and feel good about themselves. It is not a competition to see who can wear it better. If you want to make a change, do it for you. It is the only way that change will be long term. Remember that you are the one living in that body. No one else.

Beauty is only skin deep

Beauty, or its perception is a very personal thing. It is taste. This will be down the individual, it can be environmental, what you were bought up around, it can be cultural. But I digress.

I am working in collaboration with a friend and fellow (albeit infinitely more talented) makeup artist, Wechselbalg (find him on facebook) to bring to life some concepts inspired by the Hansel and Gretel : Witchhunters film. To this end, I selected the Desert Witch as my first witch.

The image I have included with this blog is the unedited image I uploaded to Instagram last night. It got some positive comments on it – which of course delighted me. But it also made me think about the perception of beauty within our own and other societies. I was told that I look pretty, amazing, beautiful. But… and this is really what I am trying to get it. Is it really me that they are complimenting or my work.

I call myself a makeup artist although I have no formal qualification. I do however, use makeup as my artistic medium and outlet. So, if we take it as a compliment of my work, I am honoured. I am very pleased with the way it turned out. I was lucky that the weather was bright and worked in my favour.

However, the other interpretation is that they are saying that I, am pretty. And it feels wrong. I cannot really accept this as a compliment. And please let me explain why.. take a moment to look at the picture. I am wearing a wig (which I customised), blue contact lenses, self tan, and a bucket load of makeup. So .. there is nothing in the photo that makes me, me. I am the canvass a painter starts off with before applying paint.

And this is the point that bothers me. Is skin truly only skin deep. Am I only pretty when I have so many layers of makeup, my own mother wouldn’t recognise. This is a difficult topic as clearly, I do love makeup and apply it at times, with wanton abandon. And yes, it makes me feel beautiful, I love looking at the mirror, and seeing what I have created. I don’t want to bring the patriarchal or feminist gaze into this. Really, makeup is a personal thing, wear it, don’t wear it. Throw it on with a trowel, go natural. If it makes you happy, then really whether someone is hitting like on it, count it as a bonus and not a comment on you as a person. They are liking the art created?!