#WomenAgainstFeminism ?

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Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with WeHuntedTheMammoth

It’s been only two days since I found out that there is a new phenomenon on Tumblr and Facebook that carries its standard under the name of Women Against Feminism. I didn’t know whether to find the news upsetting or downright depressing. Having spent some time reading through the commentary, I felt myself torn between a desire to write a dozen hundred messages of “WRONG” in reply to some or adding my own two pennies’ worth to the mix.

The trouble with any such discussions is that it is near impossible to persuade anyone to think otherwise without days of back-and-forths, vast amounts of research to back up arguments and emotional energy to consolidate for potential losses. Plus, the likelihood of succeeding is even then very slim. More often than not the opposition will simply use well-intentioned counter-arguments  as additional fodder for their – dare I say misguided? – cause. They will continue to insist that they know their mind and that it is their right to think however they will. Well… there at least they are right. Since I was already caught in a plethora of projects of my own, I left it all alone.

Until today!

You see, earlier today I was making a much overdue incursion into the world of Facebook  and came across a puzzling article by Katie Halper. (Whoever said that Facebook is bereft of anything useful? Will not be fooled twice.) You may be surprised to find out that this piece was about cats.

Cats? you ask. What on earth could cats have of any use to say?

Alright, alright. But they were not any old cats mind, they were confused cats. Still puzzled? Well… “Like many of the women featured on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr, these cats don’t seem to really get what feminism is,” Katie says and then proceeds with an exhibition of some of their photographs and “anti-feminist” messages:

“I don’t need feminism b/c a woman needs a man like a cat needs a fish. and this cat needs a fish,declares a stripy-grey feline.

I’m against feminism because… wait that’s vacuums. I’m against vacuums,” purrs a moody-looking charcoal black cat.

“I don’t need feminism because I support the oppression of ALL humans! muahahaha”

Ok. That last one was chilling. Brrr… On the bright side, this is how I found the antidote for my upset: humour and Cats respond to #WomenAgainstFeminism with new blog: Confused Cats Against Feminism is just the dish to serve it with. Fishy? Yum.

The project started off quite simply because the blogger of WeHuntedTheMammoth found herself with two anti-feminists in her household: “Against my better judgment, I agreed to take pictures of them with signs spelling out their objections. None of their arguments make much sense to me, but, hey, they’re entitled to make their case on the internet if that’s what they want.

There’s just one little complication: the two antifeminist females in my household are not, you know, human females. They’re cats.

Needs must, however, so this ingenious blogger did not despair, but instead started off a new blog which within days became a phenomenon in its own right. Anyone can add their confused cats to the site. WeHuntedTheMammoth adds a single caveat to this: “your cats must be genuinely confused about why they oppose feminism, and generally unclear about what feminism is.”

There you are: if you have a cat who happens to be harbouring anti-feminist feelings and yet can give no clear explanation for their professed views, now they have a public platform whence to bring their confusion.

And here too is where my own furry companion has decided to take their befuddlement:

Inspired by Monty Python –  

Delivered by Cat.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Who do you think you are?

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Why blog? Why not keep a journal instead: a private escape for one’s thoughts, a keeper of secrets, a chalice to hold one’s innermost fears and desires. A journal will not be subjected to the scrutiny of anonymous readers. It will not open itself to judgement and criticism. Unless… it is discovered.

Like journal-writing, blogging is in many respects a private affair. We pour shards of our existence onto the page. Our words reveal as much as they conceal. A narrative develops over time and new truths are weaved into the old, at times displacing them. As for the elephant in the room? Ah yes. That small issue of it being public.

I was a child tiptoeing into adulthood when I started my first journal. Two weeks or so into the attempt I gave it up as a bad job. “Life is dull” was my swift conclusion. Or at least, this I thought of my life as it squiggled in ink on the page, and there was little fun to be had in chronicling pedestrian trials and tribulations. The following day I invented a story instead. My fictional alter-ego surpassed all expectations. There were adventures to be had, mysteries to be uncovered and unknowables to be explored. And, there was something else that appealed about this alternative: I could take others along on the journey by sharing my stories.

And this is the advantage any blog will always have over a journal: it is created to be shared, an endeavour that connects us with others and in doing so, it enriches our experience of story-telling, be that in the guise of writers, photographers, or artists.

There is a degree of danger associated with blogging: we can never be certain of our audience’s reaction. As a writer I am all too familiar with those negative voices in one’s head, the ones that whisper from the empty page, challenging: “Who do you think you are? What makes you think that you have something to say worthy of being read?” These demons do not discriminate. They haunt the greats and beginners alike.

Defining what constitutes good content will always be an exercise in subjectivity. Each blogger and reader are likely to have their own view of what is “good”. My first steps into the blogosphere were digital footprints of former experiences and creative passions. In time I learnt that good writing is never self-indulgent and always aims to serve the reader rather than yours truly (the writer).

There is one stumbling block that I ought to acknowledge before I say my goodbyes. Of late my blogging and writing commitments have been vying for mastery over the most precious of all resources: Time. There is a catch to being a writer: you have to write. The same goes for blogging. I am searching for a formula that will accommodate both without damaging the quality of either. When I discover it, I will be sure to let you know. Then again, you may be “in the know” already. If so… Care to share?

 

Is “#Feminism” a politically useful label any more? #FeministFriday Discussion

“If we all decided to get together and make a real push for women’s rights, would it be smart politics to brand that enterprise “feminist?” And what would our alternatives be?” asks Gene’O Gordon.

I am not sure that feminism as a movement has always been popular as such. It started as a grassroots movement and its history is one of struggle, with each generation facing new challenges.
Feminists have always encountered opposition, either from sceptics or worse, and yet their ideas have been at least in part appropriated by the mainstream and women have gained certain advances in terms of effective equality as a result.
Is Feminism fragmented at present? Yes. Yet this fragmentation was perhaps inbuilt into the very nature of the project, since women worldwide belong to different types of communities, themselves divided, and therefore face different types of issues in their everyday lives from those experienced by the originators of that movement.
Would a different label fare better? Perhaps. Yet rebranding would no doubt fail to eliminate opposition on the basis of embracing a new name alone. Those who assert that women’s role ought to revert to pre-feminist times will no doubt continue to do so.
My question is, whether a new movement or association that would be feminist in ethos, but differ in name would be able to overcome the difficulties feminism encounters today?

Join the discussion on Sourcerer’s blog.

Sourcerer

If not, can we revive it? Or do we need to get creative?

(I’m not arguing that feminism is dead; it’s alive, if a little unwell. I’m asking: If  we all decided to get together and make a real push for women’s rights, would it be smart politics to brand that enterprise “feminist?” And what would our alternatives be? )

First, I’ll tell you a story, then I’ll explain why I’m asking this question.

I’m not sure when Diana hooked up with Gretchen of Drifting Through My Open Mind, but it was very early The Monster’s career. I realized sometime in January that Gretchen was a blogger I wanted to keep up with. She has a real talent for the sort of writing I enjoy: long-form posts that relate her personal life to larger issues. Whether she does it consciously or not, her posts are emotionally engaging, and that…

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Let’s Talk Opinion | Wanders with Werewolves

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“You write well when you’re angry, Vic.”

This was the express conclusion of a friend who had taken the time to read a couple of my Let’s Talk Opinion posts. I was surprised to hear it.

I could not recall an instance when that particular emotion had prompted me to write, at least not opinion pieces. It is true that some subjects I feel strongly about and treading on egg-shells is not my strongest suit. But anger brings to mind a flaring face, augmented to the size of a Halloween pumpkin and gradually acquiring the hue of a ready-to-explode blueberry Willy Wonka style.

My posts I hope are never dispassionate, but I did not believe them to ever be guided by a sense of annoyance or downright hostility.

Pondering with some degree of perplexity on the matter, in re-reading the posts the aforementioned friend referred to, I came to a conclusion of my own. It was my propinquity proclivity to use irony and dark humour as rhetorical devices that must have come across as written in anger.  I do this intuitively, without forethought, and like any writing that gets submitted to public scrutiny, it may at times appear to linger on the threshold of sarcasm, if not crossing it altogether.

The reader is always a better judge than I could ever be of whether that is the case or not, so I will leave you to draw your own conclusions. For now, I will keep the promise of yesterday’s Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition and add the remaining favourites of the series for a complete top ten:

 

thinkoutsidetheboxcold#6 Clichés | Avoid them like the plague! Laughter is contagious, and having just about managed to pick myself off the floor where I lay in stitches for a while after reading Michael Alexander Chaney‘s “cliché” misadventure, I decided to repay him in kind. This is one of those rare instances (for me at least) where humour went hand in hand with utility.

 

beach-love-couple-silhouette1#7 Consent is Sexy When it comes to the issue of tacit consent it is difficult to disagree with Queer Guess Code: traditional media continue to portray romantic encounters as the prerogative of silence. If the other’s advances are unwelcome, we are expected to say “no”, but are women given enough opportunities to say “yes”?

 

blogging_6#8 Danger Blogging explores the dangers bloggers expose themselves to on a daily basis, and offers a few tips on how to avoid them. I have fallen foul of a couple of these myself and the effects were immediate and lasting so beware. In conversation with Idiot Writing.

 

Vogue Issue Cadeaux#9 Child Pornography and The Sexualisation of Children “Do child pornography websites lead to acts of unimaginable evil?” asks Giorge Thomas in the wake of Ian Watkins – the lead singer of Lostprophets – being convicted of child pornography charges. With this question in mind I consider the impact of the sexualisation of children perpetrated by popular media today. Some readers found the accompanying images disturbing, so please tread with care.

 

animal-farm1#10 Some are more equal than others In hindsight I wish I had named this article “Wanders with Werewolves”.  If you are familiar with this piece then you will know why. If not: then take a peek and let me know if you think a title change is in order. I believe this is the opinion piece that my friend referred to when she said “You write well when you’re angry, Vic.” Well… angry perhaps not, but a little wolfish, certainly.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Let’s Talk Opinion | Lunchtime Edition

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I am rather fond of opinion pieces. Opinions offer no certainty. They are more likely to engender a multitude of questions rather than the opposite, and yet there is an intrinsic freedom to these flighty expressions of views and feelings. We all have them, and in exploring uncertainty, armed with some degree of experience and oftentimes incomplete knowledge, we find the courage to draw the veil and let others sift through our treasure trove of conclusions in the hope of finding kindred spirits or perhaps in order to test the strength of our convictions.

Since opinions always fall short of absolute conviction, they also allow space for communication. There will be those who will agree and those who will challenge our views. And yet by the very virtue of open dialogue, all parties are enriched, if only by glimpsing a world of possibility hitherto unknown.

“We may have our private opinions but why should they be a bar to the meeting of hearts?” – Mahatma Gandhi

I initiated the Let’s Talk Opinion series several months ago as a means of engaging with issues that are important to other bloggers and in doing so I hoped that we may journey together to discover – if not answers – at least new ways of questioning the world.

The first post of the series, titled You Will Be Offended asked you to consider “where do we draw the line between opinion, self-censorship and free speech in the blogosphere?” as well as establishing what I hope to achieve with these posts and what I do not. Whether you have been keeping up with the series or are new to ShardsOfSilence, I hope you will enjoy taking a peek at the articles that have faired best so far. Here they come!

RAPED_683000 #1 Drunk Sex / RAPED This November piece, in conversation with Sifting Reality, made it to the top of the list. Does regret in hind-sight play a role in reporting intoxication-related sexual assaults? This author begs to differ. 

 

untitled#2 You Are Not White Enough! “There’s no man in this world who will reject you because of your unbleached Bermuda Triangle.” This anti-fairness advocacy piece is a humorous rant against the racist vagina police. In conversation with Jezebel.

 

Man_Vs_Woman_by_joshnickerson#3 Men vs Women | Crossing the Divide adds another doze of humour to the question of gender difference. By all accounts, having failed to fit nicely into what OM, my interlocutor for this piece, describes as “typical” female behaviour, and afraid that I may well be facing an identity crisis as a result, I relied on that oh-so-British love of subtext to fashion a tongue-in-cheek reply.

 

#4 Get Naked. Be Art. skyferreira_albumI am certain that this will not be the first, nor the last article that questions the intent behind nudity in the music industry and beyond. luna luna asked the reader to consider the divide between art and marketing ploys: between instances when nudity is empowering and disarming, and when it is just a gimmick, aimed at increasing sales. This article, although by no means definitive, is my attempt at an answer.

 

baby-on-board#5 BABY ON BOARD | Discrimination This post considered the issue of discrimination in the workplace in reply to Quinn, who claimed that offering any special consideration to working parents constitutes “blatant discrimination – “family” vs. “individual””. Gloves were off for this one!

 

I hope you enjoy revisiting these posts. If they are new to you, then I hope you won’t shy away from sharing your opinion. I am certain that at least one of the above topics will be to your liking. Nonetheless, should you be left searching for just the right topic for you, tune in tomorrow for the next set of Let’s Talk Opinion favourites.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Danger Blogging

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with Idiot Writing

“For the most part blog writing is pretty much a great thing to do – yet on occasion – do you find you take it a little far and go over the mark and incur grievous bodily harm in the process (mostly occurring at after midnight sometime)” Is Blogging A Hoot?

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You wake up early in the morning, have your first cup of coffee, and eyes still glued with sleep, you stumble into your study to write up the first post of the day. Or perhaps you are a night owl and it is the evening that you dedicate to your blog. You may feel tired, emptied out and uninspired. And yet you’ve made a commitment to write something new every day, and even though there is so much work to be done elsewhere or children to take to school, a family to feed, this half hour or so is yours alone to impart your musings with the world.

Blogging enables us to be prolific and disciplined when we are having a determinately bad day. It forces us to manage our spare time with greater care. It allows us to give free reign to our imagination. But more importantly, it is a platform where we can share what we create, receive feedback and encouragement – the very opposite of writing in a void.  

There is of course the other side of the coin. Blogging is about sharing knowledge and experience, adding value to others peoples’ lives by giving freely what you might have taken years to learn or perhaps have spent quite a bit of your hard-earned cash to become an expert in. It is about helping others as much as it is about speaking up. When you care and love, educate and entertain, then you know you’ve got a blogger’s mindset.

I was told once that in order to blog you ought to be mentally prepared before you even get into blogging, have a clear vision and a plan for what you’ll be blogging about. Sage advice, but I’ll be the first to admit that I broke all the rules and began with neither. My blog has grown organically and its eclectic posts reflect the diverse and at times incongruous nature of my interests. I am curious about too many things in this world to limit what I write about to only one.

To me, blogging is a learning process, and although I have been lucky enough not to incur any “grievous bodily harm” in the process, I am aware that there are many dangers associated with it too. Here are some of the red flags I’ve discovered:

Infrequent posts: If we only post once a month, chances are the message will be lost in the sea of others’ more frequent media efforts. On the other hand, post too much and too often, and we may be in danger of providing quantity over quality. Flooding the blogosphere with poor content will have the additional drawback of making a bad first impression for first-time visitors, who may very well leave never to return. Finally there is the matter of the antisocial blogger, who does not respond to comments and refuses to engage in discussions on their posts. Although for high-traffic blogs it may be impossible to respond to each individual comment, it is still a good idea to acknowledge those who have taken time to read and respond, even if it is done in the form of a one-off message for all readers in which the key issues that the’ve brought up in the comment box can be addressed.

Consistency in both the frequency with which we post as well as the quality of what we post are key, although admittedly, it will take time and effort to achieve both.

As for the physical dangers associated with blogging… “Acute Blogger’s Elbow” is the worst, as this prolific blogger was ready to testify: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Clm7sehenb8 Just make sure to contact your doctor if you experience any of the enumerated side-effects 😉

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)

Freedom of Speech | Words do not Kill

Let’s Talk Opinion in conversation with CRAZYCONTRARIAN

“A recent survey suggests that 45% Americans don’t understand the First Amendment.  (…) Contrary to popular belief, the First Amendment does not allow people to say anything they want without consequence.  Speech has never been protected in all situations, and the First Amendment has never applied to private citizens and private entities that have prohibited speech in one way or the other.” FIRST AMENDMENT 101

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Freedom of speech is yet another issue that has left the realm of abstract debate.

Most people would consider freedom of speech as a prima facie right, one that cannot and should not be alienated, yet trigger-happy governments have been known to overreact to instances when this right is used by individuals with questionable personal or political agendas, by proposing bills that would curtail that freedom. I refer here to a bill proposed in the UK a few years ago that intended to outlaw speech that incites religious hatred, prompted by crazycontrarian‘s Side Note, which indicates that in the US  for example “the government can interfere and punish speech when the speech (1) incites violence; (2) constitutes “fighting words”” and so on.

Is the freedom to criticise ideas not a fundamental freedom of society? I do not condone the use of this freedom to incite religious hatred, and yet legislating against opinion and curtailing the freedom to express it seems like a step too far. There are already sufficient laws to deal with extreme situations.

Words do not kill. In a democracy at least, we should cherish the right to criticise rival ways of life and express our disagreement freely. We may disagree with those who exercise their freedom, but this freedom should be protected, or else we will come to live in a world where only those views ratified by the state would be acceptable. I lived under such a regime. It is not one I would like to ever return to.

As stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19. “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.” 

At times it can be difficult to balance between liberal-democratic beliefs in freedom of opinion and expression and the language that multiculturalism can take against religion. Nonetheless, making legislation to prohibit criticising religious and other ways of life will neither eradicate hatred, nor stop it from being expressed through media that is more difficult to regulate. Conversely, this may increase the appeal of illicit language by giving it an aura of anti-establishment valour.

This debate opens another crucial subject: rights as ‘privileges’. The subtext of this theory is more dangerous than it appears to be.

Firstly it rejects the universality of human rights, transforming them into a good conferred to a limited number of individuals, thus it legitimises the prosecution, torture or even enslavement of the “unprivileged”.

Secondly, it implies that rights can be taken away and denotes that they are at the disposal of governments; this could justify such mayhem as the concentration camps during the Second World War – if rights are given by governments, they can just as easily be taken away.

Finally, it implies that rights should be earned or deserved, somewhat like the Honours conferred by the Crown. The above picture appears to be better suited to describe the organisation of crime rings, rather than liberal democracies.

In my opinion, human rights – freedom of speech amongst them – shouldn’t be subject to overruling and any government intending to countermand them should be required to justify their actions extensively.

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Let’sTalk Opinion posts engage with issues that are important to other bloggers, connecting with others on matters close to their heart. If you like a topic and would like to contribute, please feel free to add to the comment box, reblog, share, email or message me on Twitter @shardsofsilence.

Or if you happen to be a fellow Hogwartsian send me a letter by owl. ;)