Celebrity Certified Feminism: Visual Essay

This is a visual essay I made for a subject at university. It looks at the misrepresentation of feminism by celebrities in the media and why we need feminism to focus on basic human rights for all women. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Beyoncé and Miley, however I think more responsibility needs to be applied when representing serious social issues like gender inequality. It can’t all be sequins, booty, free the nipple etc because how is that going to help the women in the world where gender inequality affects their everyday life? We need to not only act for ourselves, but also for those who are not given the opportunity or right to.

xxx A

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Flirting with Feminism

This clip is an incredibly insightful, confronting and enlightening discussion between a variety of women who have varying views of feminism. From not identifying as a feminist due to feminism being targeted at middle class white women, the forward motion of feminism and how it needs to include women of colour, transgender women and disabled women, to feminism being more than an individual happiness and needs to be a collective movement, to not wanting a definition because definitions by nature are limiting and the feminism movement must continue to be dynamic and fluid, all of these women’s views are equally interesting and informative.

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A part of the discussion which really challenged my preconceived ideas of feminism is the idea of femism being so much more than individual acceptance and behaviour. How it not ok to make personal decisions and behave in a way that you deem ok and excercising a right of freedom to make those decisions, where those decisions can have adverse affects on women kind as a whole. I guess this brings in the whole ‘not asking for it’ movement which despite what a woman wears – whether it be jeans, jumper, bikini, bra, shorts, crop top or a dress – she’s not asking for it (IT being sexual abuse). I completely agree with this movement and believe that regardless of what a woman wears despite how ‘slutty’ or ‘provocative’ it may appear, she does not deserve any mistreatment or abuse. However, are individuals, especially those of power like Miley Cyrus who do wear provocative clothing really contributing to woman kind in a positive way? Yes, individuals like Miley Cyrus are excercising their right to make their own decisions and wear what they want to wear, but in the long run, is it undermining the very notions of feminism as a collective movement?

I guess we are in this world together and we as a society should act upon the interest of that society, however at the end of the day, all we really have are ourselves. Is it ok/justified to do what you want and to make your own decisions based on your individual wants/needs, OR, should we change our frame of mind and act/make collectivistic decisions based on the success and liberation towards woman kind as a whole? I can’t make that decision for women everywhere, but I do know that it is important to maintain the key values of feminism in our every day lives and fight against injustice.

xxx A

Feminism is not Fallacious

‘For the record, feminism, by definition, is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.’ – Emma Watson

Miss Emma Watson with General Ban-Ki moon
Miss Emma Watson with General Ban-Ki moon

Recently, there has been a big hype around the dreaded or welcomed word – FEMINISM. Especially after actress, Emma Watson, delivered a powerful speech to the UN this week. Whilst people in the 21st Century might have mixed feelings towards the word, it is by no means a new word or concept. Feminism started in the 1800’s, and we have authors such as the brilliant Mary Shelley (and her activist mother) to push for equality. Yet fast forward 200 years and inequality – not just towards women – is still a prominent issue.

I will admit, like Emma herself, I too have been absolutely privileged to be born healthy, into a kind and loving family, in Australia, one of the safest countries in the world and attend primary and high school, and now be at university. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of what I have been given and as Emma says, I feel a sort of responsibility to help those who don’t or won’t have access to these things.

For a long time now, I have believed in EQUALITY of all kinds. Yet one thing I didn’t understand was why Feminism, supporting gender equality, was such a taboo topic. As soon as you mention the word, people roll their eyes and groan, assuming you’re a lesbian who doesn’t shave her legs or armpits and hates men. And this is why I’m thankful that someone as beautiful, intelligent and powerful as Emma has set the record straight.

I agree that equality requires EVERYONE. Men, women, boys and girls, from all countries, religions, races and beliefs… everyone. And by uniting together, we can conquer more than gender inequality, but maybe even hunger, access to clean water, deforestation, domestic violence… the opportunities are endless. On one condition… we unite together for a better world.

I feel that the most powerful part of her speech came down to these simple words. ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ We can apply this not only to social issues like gender inequality, but to every aspect of our lives. Personally, I’ll be sure to ask myself these questions when I am writing and trying to achieve anything I set my mind to.

I feel saddened that people have opposed her address, even with a Emma, You’re Next, website being launched, counting down the days, hours and minutes until her apparent nude photos are leaked. This is just highlighting the predatory nature some men possess over women, and I think it’s pathetic and I’m sure Emma does too. Regardless of whether or not nude photos exist is not the issue. The issue is sharing private explicit photos of women on the Internet. This is a form of sexual assault and harassment and shouldn’t be tolerated in our society. And to be honest, if it were the explicit nudes of the men behind this website, all it would do it prove that they must have small, unimpressive and disappointing dicks and personalities.

My name is Adelaide. I am a feminist because I believe in not only gender equality, but equality for all people.

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#Yesallwomen – My Experiences

#Yesallwomen

Sourced from http://www.theprovince.com/cms/binary/9878330.jpg
Sourced from http://www.theprovince.com/cms/binary/9878330.jpg

The #yesallwomen has swept the Twittersphere in response to the murder spree Elliot Rodger embarked on Saturday 24th May, killing 6 innocent civilians. The #yesallwomen has been a way for women across the world to express their anger, emotion and state of fear that every women has experienced in their life. Rodger has been described as a misogynist due to authorities finding an autobiography/diary, confessing how women constantly rejected him. The #yessallwomen is far bigger than some lunatic, but has sparked important conversation that it’s absurd that in today’s society… the inequality of women. We all know the case of a man buying a girl a drink at the bar, but that is not a one way ticket to her pants.

https://twitter.com/midwesteventer/status/470936915307270144

I am not at all implying (nor is anyone on Twitter) that all men are evil. Men in my life are respectful, responsible, mature people who are the kindest human beings I’ve ever met. And I’m certainly not saying that every woman is perfect, because there’s some crazy ladies out there too. However, I believe the reason this # has taken off is because every woman has experienced some sort of inequality from men, whether that be sexual, physical or verbal abuse, expectations, crude comments or behaviour etc. And I acknowledge that it is from the minority, but sometimes, all it takes is a few beers and next thing your honking your horn and yelling sexual comments from your bar stool where you sit on your pedestal.

I’m a young women who is just trying to find her place in the world. After exploring different corners of the globe, regardless of what country your in, one thing is a guarantee, and that is men will not hesitate to express their sexual, physical desires, fantasies and dreams which I can apparently fulfil. For some reason, that is not an attractive quality. Perhaps try something like; approaching me, smile, buying a drink, being genuinely interested in me, ask for my number, give me a kiss goodnight, and call me the next day, with no other intentions or expectations. Now that is attractive.

Gentlemen please. If making howling noises from a car is how you want to portray yourself to women and the rest of society, go ahead… but you sir are an ass.

Be kind. understanding. confident. approachable. respectful. And never assume that we owe you anything because you spent your valuable night buying us drinks.

To all of you gentlemen out there who are being gentlemen… Thankyou.

Ciao

X

 

Bring Back Our Girls, Bring Forth Your Support

#Bringbackourgirls

Bring Back Our Girls has been a twitter phenomenon, capturing global attention on the 234 Nigerian school girls missing due to internal terrorist regimes. This horrendous incident occurred on the 15th April, taking a few weeks for awareness to capture the world. I became aware of this movement a week ago and have since actively followed, retweeted and researched the development of the #bringbackourgirls.

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Malala Yousafzai showing her support. Sourced from http://rosearomas.files.wordpress.com/2014/05/mala.jpg?w=529

I personally support and participate in this online ‘clicktivism’ because being a young woman in the 21st century, I know and believe that education should be granted to all, regardless of race, religion, culture or gender. With the admiration of activist Malala Yousafzai and her powerful words “Let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons,” (Yousafzai, 2013)I hope to one day be an activist involved with human and especially women’s rights. 

Clicktivism is the online activity of sharing, liking, commenting, retweeting information about a concern or cause, whereas activism is the physical act of doing something such as protesting. (thetrashlab, 2013) Despite the criticisms of clictivism being ‘slacktivists’, activism would not be possible without the online support of the clicktivists.

However, here I am, sitting at my computer screen, here in Australia, and not in Nigeria protesting and pressuring the government on a physical level. But does that mean that my support is insignificant? Despite the fact I may just be involved in the ‘clictivism,’ creating awareness is the biggest and most difficult step in order to make a difference. That’s why the involvement of high profile celebrities (as pictured below) furthermore perpetuates awareness and involvement.

 High profile people showing their support and creating global awareness, such as Justin Timberlake, Drake and Bradley Cooper Sourced from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/isoke001/gwss1005-2014/rmdbg.jpg
High profile people showing their support and creating global awareness, such as Justin Timberlake, Drake and Bradley Cooper
Sourced from http://blog.lib.umn.edu/isoke001/gwss1005-2014/rmdbg.jpg

 Whilst I might not be able to make a physical contribution to the issue in Nigeria and I am absolutely privileged to have the freedom, rights and opportunities to attend university (which is even financially supported and encouraged by the government), I am able to fully appreciate and maximise the chances I have here in Australia. The youth of the world are the future, (Strauss, 2011) we have power and we have the ability to make change, whether it be online or in the real world.

 

Further Related Readings/Videos

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KsB2qtDaiRw

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-grant/are-you-a-slacktivist_b_4390258.html

 

References

Yousafzai, M 2013, ‘Our books and pens are the most powerful weapons’, transcript United Nations, The Guardian, 12 July, accessed 07/05/2014, http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/jul/12/malala-yousafzai-united-nations-education-speech-text

thetrashlab, 2013 Slactivists vs. Activists (online video), 15 April, viewed 07/05/2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0EQFKKJBjwE

Strauss, J 2011, Youth movement in a culture of hoplessness, Aljazeera, 8 October, accessed 07/05/2014, http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/spotlight/occupywallstreet/2011/10/2011107172820297149.html

 

 

 

Looking Back to Move Forward

“The Media”

These two simplistic yet extravagant words, evoke diverse emotions and reactions within individuals across the world. The denotations of the media are relatively basic –the means of communication, such as radio and television, newspapers, andmagazines, that reach or influence people widely.” However the connotations of the media are exponential. From political corruption, sexualisation of children, a mediated public sphere, mass communication, controversy, exploitation, heroes, the list goes on. 

MEDIA - generated on Wordle by Adelaide Haynes
MEDIA – generated on Wordle by Adelaide Haynes
Social Media Logotype Background
Sourced from http://www.australianchurchrecord.net/wp/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/social_media_0.jpg

I always thought that my knowledge on the media was current and knowledgable. That is until the #BCM110 took over my spare time and I was exposed to the big wide work of the media. Extending far beyond celebrity hot gossip, sport highlights and natural disasters… it is the unheard stories on unheard mediums, addressing unheard concepts which captured my attention and heart.

Some of these new concepts were difficult to initially understand, helping me criticise, debate, comment and re-evaluate certain aspects of my knowledge. The concept of “Media Ownership” challenged the way I viewed everyday ‘news.’ Was I hearing biased, personal, edited stories from the likes of Rupert Murdoch or Gina Rineheart?  By figuring out the small network of people who own various aspects of the media, it allows myself and others to critically assess the validity and integrity of specific media platforms.

Sourced from http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/images/eroticization-girls.jpg
Sourced from http://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/images/eroticization-girls.jpg

The discussion of ‘corporate paedophilia’ regarding the sexualization of children in the media and moral panic, is a very controversial topic, one in which I am interested in investigating further. “Children’s general sexual and emotional development is affected by exposure to advertising and marketing that is saturated with sexualised images and themes,” (Rush and La Nauze, 2006) highlights the impending issues regarding such a sensitive topic and its importance to address it. We all treasure our childhood and children should be innocent and carefree as long as they can, before the pressures of growing up/adolescence/adulthood kick in. I don’t believe it’s a cause of ‘moral panic’ due to the long term effects it has on each individuals sexual and emotional development.

Sourced from http://oreowriter.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/dove-campaign-real-beauty-women.jpg
Sourced from http://oreowriter.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/dove-campaign-real-beauty-women.jpg

Being a woman in today’s society, I am very passionate about equal opportunity for everyone on this earth and unfortunately, the media is blamed for its misrepresentation of women, which can limit these opportunities. It is a renowned fact that ‘sex sells’ and from a young age, we are told that beauty is a primary concern, other than intellect or personality. The media is both the solution and the problem and a path I would like to further develop is working towards positive representation of women in the media.

Throughout this journey of awareness, understanding and evaluating the media on a local and global context, I have learnt many things about the world and myself. It has reinforced my passion for exploring and learning about places, events, people and concepts which ultimately shape who we are.

References

Emma Rush and Andrea La Nauze, Corporate Paedophilia, The Sexualisation of Children in Australia, http://www.tai.org.au/documents/dp_fulltext/DP90.pdf, October 2006, accessed 9/04/14

Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Miss Representation, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZkC_fNxmQk, 2011, accessed 9/04/14