Sexism, Exploitation and Memes

I wonder how many memes there are on the internet?

They’re something we all see pretty much every time we log onto a social media site. That black and white lettering that protests some sarcastic message has basically become iconic now and will forever be recognised.

Memes are a way for people to rant, to express their opinions or just to make a joke in a quick and fashionable way and overall I think they’re pretty funny. There’s no better way to procrastinate than looking at a photo of a stupid dog with a sarcastic message printed over it.

But I wonder how many memes out there mock women? I bet most of them degrade or ridicule feminism and the actions of women in some way. Although these memes aren’t as cool as a dog wanting cupcakes or a cat with a moustache, they seem to be the most popular ones and the ones that are constantly being shared.

Obviously this is something I don’t like. But I don’t think it’s a problem to be blamed solely on the sharers, as most of these people don’t really know what they’re mocking anyway.

Recently I saw a meme which inspired this whole post. This meme basically said that women complain about men complimenting them or looking at them, but will continue to wear little clothing or present themselves in a sexual manner.

(Because obviously these actions are all just an act to attract men, right?)

The meme was basically saying “why are you complaining, woman? You obviously want this”

Now if I close my mind, I can almost see why some people would find this ironic. But it doesn’t take long for the stupidity (and a bit of fear) to come flooding back in.

People seem to think that if women want to be taken seriously, then they can’t dress in a certain way. For these people, women must not appear sexual in anyway and cover all parts of their body because, God forbid, should we see some cleavage then there’s no way we can concentrate on what these lasses are actually saying, right?

It makes me sad that some people still genuinely believe that clothing (or performances or whatever) has any impact on your rights to be taken seriously or to be heard.

As for the degrading comment…

The reason why a woman choosing, for example, to wear shorts that may reveal her vulva is not degrading is because she chose to wear them. She chose to reveal whatever part of her body she wanted and because it’s her body and her choice, this is not degrading. If you want to label it anything I’d go for empowering.

Everyone has a right to control their own bodies. And if that means they want to be sexual then let them. The problems occur when other people think they have the right to sexualise something that is not theirs. That’s why people speak out about adverts, films, posters or comments that use women’s bodies in a sexual way because the power has been taken away from the person who owns the body and given to someone outside of it.

The whole point of feminism is that people a choice, regardless of their gender. Women, like men, can freely express their sexuality if they want to. But it’s down to them to choose if that’s something they want to do. It shouldn’t be something that other people can choose for you.

Men are, of course, not excluded from this. How many washboard abs and toned physiques have you seen to promote, sell or generally just grab attention in the media recently? There’s tonnes, I know. But the reason we talk about women so much when we deal with topics like this is because it happens to us more. Plus, because it’s deemed acceptable to treat women this way we then start to do the same things to men.

It’s just not fair for anyone and it’s creating such a shitty situation.

Can’t we just let people do what they want, whether that be in fashion or sex or just life, and not feel the need to comment, judge or ridicule? Let’s be fair to one another and if you see something shitty report it and try to educate those who don’t understand why it’s wrong.

And before you ask, yes I can take a joke. I just prefer my jokes to have more humour than spite.


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Speak soon,

Rachael.


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The Current State of Affairs (Ft. Votes & Protests)

With the current states of affairs, it’s not difficult to feel as though all hope is lost. It can sometimes feel like to world is ending, with no one understanding the actions of their peers; with protests to battle against decisions already made and with fear being a common emotion among any old enough to understand what’s going on.

Some major decisions have been made both here and overseas that do not reflect either the view of the people or attitudes deemed acceptable today. Issues regarding equality (in all sense of the word) are rising, just when we getting confident that these old ideals were ridiculous and redundant. And although it seems as though all our problems can be pinned on one leader or another, we need to accept that as the public we are not innocent in any of this either.

It’s easy to point the finger at that orange-faced man on the TV or your government representative, because they’re the ones in charge right? But in these states of democracy we need to see that it is our actions, our views and our desperation that has put us here.

The news in America was obviously a great shock, but while others turned to anger and fighting I found myself feeling sad. I was sad for those who were so desperate to see change that they turned to archaic opinions and frightening predicaments; I was sad for the many who were hopeful but still didn’t do enough; I was sad about the lack of education and the lack of interest some people demonstrate in these important affairs. I am now sad about those who live in fear.

But at the end of the day, a vote was made. Although it may not be the vote you wanted it is the vote of the majority (including 53% of white women) and in a democratic society these changes must be made. This man should rule; that country should leave.

“democracy: (noun) a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”

synonyms: representative government, elective government

Although it may not be the vote you cast (and as long as you cast your vote then your job is done. If you didn’t then I’m afraid you can’t really speak out) there are ways that you can make a difference and still ensure that your voice is heard. There will be some useful links at the end of this to help you, but on a smaller scale just by speaking out and remaining compassionate you can make all the difference.

The views of your current leader mightn’t (and hopefully don’t) reflect your views and this may make you lose hope when people agree with what you see to be wrong. But don’t be disheartened. This is your chance to educate and expose some new ideas.

Although protesting is obviously the most public (and seemingly most common right now) way to express your opinion, this is something that should only be done if you have a specific case in mind.

It’s all well and good blocking streets to campaign against a leader or a vote that has been made (and in many cases this is successful and generally just a good thing to do to show your support) but it would all work a little better if we were more specific about what we don’t like. In the case of Trump, there is nothing you can do to get him out of the leader seat. So instead of putting all your energy and time into campaigning for the impossible, aim to fight against his policies or the things he’s said that aren’t okay.

trump-1

Instead of being disrespectful, because even if you disagree there is still a large majority of people who thought the opposite (and even though they may be wrong they are still people and should get your respect), aim to educate. Use your campaigns, your protests and your posts to explain exactly what has happened and why it’s wrong. Be clear and honest as for some people the idea that these beliefs are wrong is just not possible. Talk about their children, use their futures as an example; make it understandable and be open to answer questions. But also be prepared for backlash and don’t push back. Instead remain calm and kind- you don’t need to stoop to that level to win an argument. Besides winning shouldn’t be your aim here, educating and exposing what is right so that people can understand the consequences of their actions should be your goal.

If you are going to protest, by all means go for it. But it’s best to be specific (stick to an issue like racism, sexism or immigration) and for God’s sake do your research. Again people are going to ask questions so use this time to educate and open more people up to new ideas. This is something you can only do if you’ve researched. Remain passionate, otherwise what’s the point in campaigning if you don’t care, and compassionate. Some people will still think they’ve done the right thing or some mightn’t even understand. They are still people. If you’re campaigning against the ill-treatment of others whether for their colour, gender or ethnicity then make sure you represent the right way to treat people regardless. Even if they disagree with you, or call out rude things.

Now is the best time for us to rally round, help each other out and generally just stay supportive. There is already too much fear and anger in the world without us adding to it. If things are happening that you don’t agree with, speak out. But please bear in mind the advice given. If you see people fighting for change, help them. But above all remain kind and respectful to your peers and the people around you, because that’s the one thing we don’t have enough of right now.


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Speak soon,

Rachael.