As a ‘modern’ feminist, I struggle to reconcile a lot of my beliefs with things that are becoming increasingly normalised in society. I have never been as hardcore as my parents, and I respect them for their proactive anti-misogyny, traditional feminism and cult pro-womenness (I am aware I am making up words here… but who cares?). Recently I have been thinking about how I feel about my role as a woman, and about society more generally. I find myself acting mum in my house and I dislike that. I don’t want to be the kind of person that cleans up after people and eventually gets taken for granted. And yet I can’t deny that I cannot live in a pigsty. This is one place where my politics fail me.
Speaking to female friends about the normalisation of porn made me think about this. Men of my generation grow up surrounded by images of women in pornography – and expect to from a young age. It is an unspoken truth, and acceptable amongst most (not all) young men and boys, that porn is a rite of passage. Previously I have argued that pornography depicting consensual sex between two adults can be acceptable, perhaps when viewed critically, but I am starting to veer from that stance. Although I would refute the claim that porn directly makes young boys demand sex from their female peers, as was postulated recently on a BBC radio programme, being continually exposed to unrealistic images of women will no doubt influence boys’ opinions and expectations of sex. It is the same with advertising. Already thin models are airbrushed to look even more ‘perfect’ based on society’s understanding of what that should be. This representation of women is bad for women themselves, who are made to feel inadequate, and for men, who, consciously or unconsciously, expect women to look like this unattainable vision of ‘perfection’.
Porn among my generation is taken as a given. We live in the age of the Internet, where anyone can find almost any kind of pornography anywhere and any time, despite their age. Google has launched a new ‘incognito’ function to their browser, which essentially allows people to watch porn without their partners (usually) finding out. This is pretty overt, despite not being specifically mentioned. Buying someone’s birthday present without them knowing what it is, my arse. Why is this acceptable? Why is it OK to watch sculpted people having pretty graphic encounters? And why is it mostly men? Looking at advertising or pornographic depictions of women makes me feel awful about myself, and I’m sure a plethora of other women would agree. Yet there seems to be no comparable reaction among men. This makes me think that perhaps it is because pornography is essentially propagating a misogynistic portrayal of women, who are often shown to be submissive, objectified, and disposable. This is reflected in popular culture – the lyrics to some songs make me feel pretty bad about myself too. Humiliated even. You shouldn’t have to tune out the lyrics when you’re listening to something because what they are saying is horrible. Music is to be enjoyed. Take
Beyoncé, for example, who has described herself as a ‘modern day feminist’. However, she has recently changed tack from ‘girls who rule the world’ recently to ‘bow down bitches’. Not something I would call particularly feminist. Has Mrs. Carter, as she is now calling herself, perhaps been influenced too much by pop culture and social expectations following her marriage?
A few things have prompted me to think about my reaction to this image of women in society. I have long questioned my own body image, and my reaction to the way women are shown in the media. I realise I am a classic example of how such representations of women in society have negatively affected young women. I am 20, and have grown up with a hugely sexualised media, readily available information on the Internet, and feminist politics. And yet, I would consider myself a casualty – I am aware that my notion of beauty is entirely warped, but at least I recognise it. I wish I could change my own perceptions, but no matter how hard I try, the seed is sown, and is reinforced every time I look at advertising, or walk through a city centre, or am on the Internet. I am starting to think that it is not only the media, but also porn, that is to blame. It acts as an underground reinforcement to unhealthy notions of what women should be, and my mind is at least set on that one.
Remember Kids, the union needs dolla to keep up the good work!
The Union exists to enrich your life of every UEA student, and we want to be the best students’ union in the country at a University where the student experience is second to none. So we’re delighted that UEA has been voted #1 in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2013, and we like to think the Union’s services and activities have a big role in your UEA life.
But our funding model doesn’t work any more. You may remember the Concrete headline from last year ‘UNION IN CRISIS’ with the greyscale picture of Union House. And you may have seen the front page story of this week’s edition of Concrete about how the Union’s funding is steadily disappearing as revenue from our shops and bars is declining.
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Sam Mbah is the co-author, with I. E. Igariwey, of African Anarchism, originally published in 1997. In that book, Mbah and Igariwey argued for an anarchist alternative in Africa. I have included excerpts fromAfrican Anarchismin Volume Three of Anarchism: A Documentary History of Libertarian Ideas. Last year, Mbah gave an interview in which he discusses the prospects for anarchism, and a “African Spring,” in Nigeria, where he remains active. Below, I reproduce some excerpts from the interview, in which Mbah discusses power and corruption in Nigeria, the negative role of established religion, the weakness of civil society and trade union organizations, the role of the oil industry, environmental degradation, deindustrialization and the need for continuing support from people outside of Nigeria.
The entire interview can be found at: http://sammbah.wordpress.com/.
Interview with Sam Mbah
When I wrote African Anarchism with my friend [I.E. Igariwey], we wrote…
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None of the world’s top industries would be profitable if they paid for the natural capital they use
… And people complain about subsidising renewables.
The notion of “externalities” has become familiar in environmental circles. It refers to costs imposed by businesses that are not paid for by those businesses. For instance, industrial processes can put pollutants in the air that increase public health costs, but the public, not the polluting businesses, picks up the tab. In this way, businesses privatize profits and publicize costs.
While the notion is incredibly useful, especially in folding ecological concerns into economics, I’ve always had my reservations about it. Environmentalists these days love speaking in the language of economics — it makes them sound Serious — but I worry that wrapping this notion in a bloodless technical term tends to have a narcotizing effect. It brings to mind incrementalism: boost a few taxes here, tighten a regulation there, and the industrial juggernaut can keep right on chugging. However, if we take the idea seriously, not just as an accounting…
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…bloody hell. This is such a sacrifice. And illuminates the second-class status of indigenous peoples in Latin America – so tragic.
Su amenaza es el mayor acto de dignidad que les queda, les han robado, masacrado, asesinado a sus líderes y vapuleado con un cínico proceso judicial que no podían ganar. ¿Cómo podrían defender sus derechos? unos tíos con taparrabos frente a un sistema incestuoso de poder y política. Me arde la rabia por esta injusticia y al mismo tiempo se me enciende el corazón de orgullo al conocer su coraje…
Una carta firmada por los líderes de la comunidad indígena Guarani-Kaiowá de Mato Grosso do Sul, anuncia el suicidio colectivo de 170 personas, (50 hombres, 50 mujeres y 70 niños), si se hace efectiva la orden de la Corte Federal para despojar a la tribu de la ‘cambará granja’ donde se encuentran temporalmente acampados.
El territorio, que ellos llaman ‘tekoha’, que significa ‘cementerio ancestral’, ha sido sembrado con grandes plantaciones de caña de azúcar y soja, y está…
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Di Canio’s appointment as Sunderland manager is a renewed demonstration of the worst elements of football. I love football, I think it’s a great sport, and I follow it closely. BUT the associated hooliganism both on and off the pitch is disgusting. I refer to hooliganism not only in the traditional sense associated with the beautiful game, but in terms of players’ salaries, managers, the whole corporate, elite-sponsored joyriding that takes place. And to say that politics is not a part of football is entirely unfounded, and shows a shallow understanding of the game. Football has classically been a working class sport, and has been used as a political tool in cultural colonialism, particularly in Africa. Nearly everyone I spoke to about football in Kenya supported one of the English top 5, and I know that trend is replicated across the continent. The idea that Sunderland can appoint a fascist to manage their club, and attempt to separate the act from politics, is rididulous. Everything is political, not least the hiring to a multi-million pound position. It is undeniable that racism is an unfortunate part of the culture, evident in recent cases regarding John Terry, among others. To separate fascism from racism is another step – perhaps best left to the inarticulate morons in the EDL who attempt to defend their position as ‘not racists’ to show its inaccuracy.