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Don’t bother raising your hands…

Another one. Another victim to police brutality in the United States and again it was a black man, a man that was statistically much more likely to be the target of disproportionate excessive force unnecessary to maintain public order.

Many things in the case of Betty Jo Shelby are horribly familiar: A police officer with a history of use of excessive force, a black male without a weapon and following the trial an absolute lack of accountability1.

When I first heard about this tragedy I was, obviously, devastated. But then, I felt worse, after I read an article describing the justification for the police officer’s lethal conduct – she was scared.

Scared, that the weaponless big scary black man would harm her, with his hands in the air while she had her loaded gun in hand. Yeah, of course…

Funnily enough, victimhood is being put regularly to people who are actually struggling, you know, like people who are one major life event away from losing their homes or are way more likely to be attacked, belittled, devalued or fired simply because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or colour of their skin.

Yet the powerful can and do use it when and if it fits their agendas. We cannot describe calling out opressive treatment as victim culture, for victim culture is when one uses the role of the victim purposefully in order to gain some advantage of some sort. Brooke Turner’s father resorted to this strategy when he lamented his sons lack of appetite for steak after he violently raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. White supremacists and right-wing extremists resort to it when they justify their use of violence and brutality with the perceived threat to their culture and country. And also, not only Ms. Shelby but also the justice system is guilty of falling into this trap when she hid behind the stereotype of the powerless white woman although she held the gun in hand and represented law and order, which she so horribly failed to uphold.

Admittedly, a charge for murder could be questionable, but a ‘slap on the wrist’ is just not acceptable, even less considering the context of people labelling Black Lives Matter as a terrorist organisation as well as the reoccurring of unlawful killings like this. And this doesn’t even touch upon the pain and terror that the families of these victims have to go through because they will never see justice being served, solely because the perpetrator was a policeman or woman. This is not an easy topic, but surely if whole communities start to question not only the ability to keep them safe of the police force, but their very motivation to do so this is not a sustainable situation.

And we know, that the police relies on people from communities to supply them with information in order to do their job, because they simply cannot be everywhere all the time. Then, this is not even just an issue in terms of lost lives (as if this wasn’t enough!) but as well in terms of our communal cohesion, general security and ability to perform as a society.

Just now, we learned that leading up to one of the latest tragedies of London the Muslim community warned to police about the perpetrator, which just shows how important it is to integrate rather than divide2.

When the weakest in our society loose, we all do. This is because in this way we start to create a culture, in which it is acceptable not to cherish and celebrate what American patriots would call the 3 basic human rights set out by the American constitution: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These 3 things, however you’d like to phrase them, are what binds us together. (The irony that America, after establishing these great rights, then went on to enslave a lot of people and basically not bother about their life, liberty or happiness is not to be missed).

 

When we contribute to the stripping away of basic rights to our neighbours, the very people that might eat across from us in our favourite restaurant, play with their kids next to ours in the local park and go to the same open-mic night on a Wednesday, guess who is going to be next?

As I view it, the all-present theme in modern politics is the anger and frustration of disenfranchised people not seeing possibilities for themselves, their neighbourhoods and their children. This needs to be our concern, as we cannot allow any person within our society to have lesser rights or possibilities. However, I cannot fathom how buying into the illusion of isolationism and cultural division will help us to improvr.

To paraphrase the great Louis C.K.; The only time you should look into your neighbours bowl is to give them more if they don’t have enough.


featured image: https://www.google.de/search?biw=1536&bih=759&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=police+brutality+jo+shelby&oq=police+brutality+jo+shelby&gs_l=img.3…15671.17332.0.17509.10.10.0.0.0.0.156.1230.2j8.10.0….0…1.1.64.img..0.3.360…0j0i67k1j0i30k1j0i8i30k1j0i24k1.yzmhBwb9Q7M#imgrc=mtKnM-TY2wUDPM:

1 http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/05/tulsa_officer_betty_jo_shelby.html

2 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-attack-salman-abedi-uk-authorities-suicide-bomber-missed-opportunities-intelligence-a7755056.html

 

 

 

Between loaded guns, straightened arms and victimhood

Another one. Another victim to police brutality in the United States and again it was a black man, a man that was statistically much more likely to be the target of disproportionate excessive force unnecessary to maintain public order.

Many things in the case of Betty Jo Shelby are horribly familiar: A police officer with a history of use of excessive force, a black male without a weapon and following the trial an absolute lack of both conviction and accountability1.

When I first heard about this tragedy I was, obviously, devastated. But then, I felt worse, after I read an article describing the justification for the police officer’s lethal conduct – she was scared.

Scared, that the weaponless big scary black man would harm her, with his hands in the air while she had her loaded gun in hand. Yeah, of course…

Funnily enough, victimhood, or how it is called more often: ‘victim, much?!’, is being put regularly to people who are actually struggling, you know, like people who are one major life event away from losing their homes or are way more likely to be attacked, belittled, devalued or fired simply because of their gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or colour of their skin.

Yet the powerful can and do use it when and if it fits their agendas. We cannot describe calling out subhuman treatment as victim culture, for victim culture is when one uses the role of the victim purposefully in order to gain some advantage of some sort. Brooke Turner’s father resorted to this strategy when he lamented his sons lack of appetite for steak after he violently raped an unconscious girl behind a dumpster. White supremacists and right-wing extremists resort to it when they justify their use of violence and brutality with the perceived threat to their culture and country. And also, not only Ms. Shelby but also the justice system is guilty of falling into this trap when she hid behind the stereotype of the powerless white woman although she held the gun in hand and represented law and order, which she so horribly failed to uphold.

Admittedly, a charge for murder could be questionable, but a ‘slap on the wrist’ is just not acceptable, even less considering the context of people labelling Black Lives Matter as a terrorist Organisation as well as the reoccurring and unlawful killings of innocent civilians. And this doesn’t even touch upon the pain and terror that the families of these victims have to go through because they will never see justice being served, solely because the perpetrator was a policeman or woman. This is not an easy topic, but surely if whole communities start to question not only the ability to keep them safe of the police force, but their very motivation to do so this is not a sustainable situation.

And we know, that the police relies on people from said communities to supply them with information in order to do their job, because they simply cannot be everywhere all the time. Then, this is not even just an issue in terms of lost lives (as if this wasn’t enough!) but as well in terms of our communal cohesion, general security and ability to perform as a society.

Just now, we learned that leading up to one of the latest tragedies of London the Muslim community warned to police about the perpetrator, which just shows how important it is to integrate rather than divide2.

When the weakest in our society loose, we all do. This is because in this way we start to create a culture, in which it is acceptable not to cherish and celebrate what American patriots would call the 3 basic human rights set out by the American constitution: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These 3 things, however you’d like to phrase them, are what binds us together – basic human qualities regardless of who we are. (The irony that the USA, after establishing these great rights, then went on to enslave a lot of people and basically not bother about their life, liberty or happiness is not to be missed but I’m getting off topic).

When we contribute to the stripping away of basic rights to our neighbours, the very people that might eat across from us in our favourite restaurant, play with their kids next to ours in the local park and go to the same open-mic night on a Wednesday, guess how is going to be next?

As a remember it, an all-present theme in modern politics is the anger and frustration of disenfranchised people not seeing possibilities for themselves, their neighbourhoods and their children, and I just don’t believe that we are going to be advance anything by buying into the illusion of isolationism and cultural division.

To paraphrase the great Louis C.K.; The only time you should look into your neighbours bowl is to give them more if they don’t have enough.


1 http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2017/05/tulsa_officer_betty_jo_shelby.html

2 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/manchester-attack-salman-abedi-uk-authorities-suicide-bomber-missed-opportunities-intelligence-a7755056.html

featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=victimhood&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwimpMa_ks_UAhWKQBQKHeSyCMIQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=759#imgrc=6ntKP3yraHm1lM:

 

Alt-Right on Facebook

Some time ago I read an article by The Independent1, which concerned itself with the growth of Alt-Right Groups on social media. This growth is in fact of such an exponential nature that it apparently outranks ISIS’s growth on Twitter (which appears to be their chosen social media platform). If this is really true, we should consider re-examining the amount of attention we pay to Islamic terrorism in relation to other threats infiltrating our communities. We have ample evidence that right extremist ideology can result in terrorist attacks, such as in the case of Alexandre Bissonnette2,  although of course we frame these events usually in the context of ‘lone wolves’, ‘mental instability’ and ‘isolated incidents’. Some have even argued3, that since 9/11 more people have been killed by white supremacist terrorism than by its brother stemming from a radicalized Islamic ideology.

Apparently, this Alt-Right networking predominantly takes place on Facebook. At the time, that sounded believable enough to me, and of course considering the shift in public discourse I would have classified some currently socially accepted narratives as part of the Alt-Right movement, such as Milo Yiannopoulos’s take on Black Lives Matter4.

For me, that was back then about the end of it until I stumbled upon a Facebook page called ‘God Emperor Trump’s Dank Meme Stash’, whose description advertised “We have the best memes, tremendous memes. Nobody has better memes than us”,  which made me laugh.
Naturally, I thought that this was a page designed to critically engage with Trump’s actions, narratives and policies via internet jokes – Boy, was I wrong!

They do, in fact, make use of memes as a way of expressing their opinion, but not only was the title of the group not chosen ironically but as well within this group I found a number of things that make to look upon Mr. Yiannopoulos opinions in a very different light by comparison.

I made a decision to abstain from posting any specific images here on this blog, because I know that minorities and those at the receiving end of discrimination and oppression are confronted with these and similar attitudes often enough in their life.

But I also believe, to appropriately engage with the realities of right-wing extremism, we need to know what we are up against. Not only to be able to assess accurately the threat it poses, but also to enable ourselves to go through a reality check, to burst our ‘bubble – even if it is really worrying and hurtful.

I myself was not aware that people could not only hold extreme opinions such as Holocaust denial, Antisemitism or White Supremacist Advocacy and express them that openly and without fear of some kind of social censorship. Of course I recognize that the Alt-Right always had spaces to proclaim these kind of opinions, however, in the past I experienced their arguments to be largely void of these extreme points within the public sphere.
Furthermore, it surprised me how easily these groups were to find – I did not actually have to look very hard.

But Facebook is not the only place where such messages have been found. Mic5 just published a video featuring white supremacist Richard Spencer articulating his belief that America really belongs to White Man.

On the one hand we of course need to oppose not only such attitudes but also the ideology behind it, on the other hand we need to be clear about what they are: terrorists. 
Terrorists commit vile acts on the basis of a flawed belief system. Please let us not allow their rhetoric to distract us from the fact that they make our communities less safe, not more. 
————————————————————————–

1 http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/white-nationalist-movement-twitter-faster-growth-isis-islamic-state-study-a7223671.html

2http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/30/quebec-mosque-shooting-two-students-arrested-gun-attack-mosque/

3 http://nextshark.com/white-supremacists-killed-people-islamic-terrorists-u-s-since-911/

4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksRB4faMU7o

5 https://www.facebook.com/MicMedia/videos/1508081739214611/

 

Please, don’t left like this…

Last weekend I was camping with a group of friends and at one moment the conversation touched upon the French election and, in its development also the infamous faux-pas of Donald Trump’s press speaker Sean Spicer, in which he offered his opinion that Hitler, unlike Assad, never used chemical weapons against his own people1
A statement about which I, as a German, of course had quite a bit to say about. Apart from its comic and devastating dimension, I was left with the thought once again “How on earth did Trump win this election?”

It has been suggested by several people, such as Jonathan Pie2, that the fault is actually to be found within the left that have largely failed to live up to its own principles (freedom of speech, safe space for expression, empathy and tolerance) by silencing the voices of people that although on the first glance appear to be holding a substantial amount of privilege, have been betrayed by the system and are therefore largely disenfranchised.

Examples of these people can be found in the old mining towns and overall places which have not benefited from our economic system. It appears, that very often discourses which centres upon racist slurs or stereotypes and party programmes that are built around immigration seem to be a powerful political weapon in these areas. Subsequently, its inhabitants have been numerously characterised and described as racists, bigots, voting without holding the sufficient knowledge and to be low class.

The onion has published a video recently, in which a trump supporter that supposedly changed his opinion by reading feminist theory and going to a poetry slam, explains how this happened³. Quite obviously, this satiric video is supposed to critique the notion that many young left-wing activists espouse, that if these simpletons would just pick up the right book, of course they are going to agree with them, which is not only ignorant, arrogant but also plainly harmful for our society.

As Alexander Betts suggests in his TED talk about Brexit4, it is quite apparent that the arguments that appear convincing to us have very little impact on other parts of the population and our insistence and persistence on these arguments just show our inability to engage with the problems and issues that drive them both to the margins of society and into voting for far-right parties.

A very good example of this, in my opinion, is the east of Germany, where people have to deal with economic instability, lesser chances for their kids alongside uncertainty what the years to come will have in check for them. These people turned to the far-left in the past and recently to the far-right end to the spectrum, solely because these political parties appear to be offering something different to the established political landscape.

But honestly, who the hell can blame them? If you are not able to reach the basic necessities of life in a system that lives in abundance, what does that tell you about the success of our mainstream parties? And more importantly, what does it tell you about the left and the feminist movement? If we deny the validity of their attempt to assert themselves, to make themselves heard we, the oh-so-enlightened liberals and activists, commit the same kind of classism that in its beginnings thwarted the feminist movement. We cannot, simply cannot afford to do that.

So where do we go from here? In my view, the left needs to do a couple of things: While continuing to reject racist stereotypes and bigotry in current discourse, we need to go back to our basics: respect, free speech, non-discriminatory policies and human rights – regardless who this applies to, even if it is a white male. Because if a moment, which aspires to fight against injustices does not do so with regard to everyone, we are no better than the white female upper-class ‘feminists’ who denied their black sisters equal participation within their struggle for equality.


¹http://www.politico.eu/article/sean-spicer-claims-even-hitler-didnt-use-chemical-weapons-against-his-people/
²https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=miE-kwQM0mo
³https://www.facebook.com/TheOnion/videos/10155397968279497/
4 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcwuBo4PvE0
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I’m an feminists vs. I am pro-feminism

Today, more as a result of bored web browsing than anything else, I came across an article by Everyday Feminism1, in which its author, Drew Boling, contemplates whether he should get a tattoo of the all too familiar feminist symbol. His subsequent discussion with female feminists then leads him to question of the very notion of male feminists and whether they should not rather call themselves pro-feminism.

Drew furthermore claims, that what feminism has taught him is, that everything depends on its context. To me, however, there is shockingly little consideration of context within his argument. If we talk about a movement, that in its beginnings was hijacked by well-to-do white middle class women that wanted to achieve equal rights for men and women by for example creating employment possibilities for women whilst simultaneously disregarding the needs of women of colour and arguing that discussing racism was a diversion, the very notion of movement ownership seems awfully dangerous to me. Also, we should really know better than argue within the context of a male-female binary, because we know that this is harmful for everyone’s identity that is not represented within this dichotomy.

The idea of entrapment in sexist ideology, i.e. the idea that certain people need to fulfill certain roles based on their gender is to be rejected. Nevertheless, it needs be said that men do not suffer from sexism – they suffer from sexist discrimination and toxic masculinity. These means, while they have every right to be part of the movement and discuss the problem that affect them, we need to remember not to take over the conversation.

In the past, men and white people have been guilty of taking credit, taking up spaces and dominating conversations that essentially are to be had or pioneered by other groups of people. Men, at times, tend to be celebrated simply for proclaiming their feminist ideology, whereas women and women of colour especially, need to work way harder to achieve a similar amount of admiration.

But this is what we should be fighting, not attacking people who want to show openly that they support our cause.

Male feminist? Awesome!
Male feminist that talks over people who have valuable lived experiences that will enrich the discussion that he does not have to offer? Yeeeeah mate, we gotta talk…


1http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/04/men-calling-selves-feminists/

featured image: https://www.google.de/search?q=male+feminists&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwism5mvgMXTAhWF0xQKHZZDBCcQ_AUICigB&biw=1536&bih=759#tbm=isch&q=feminist+symbol+tatoo&imgrc=ieyI9GP5Q4ogaM:

It’s not just hoops, is it?

Cultural appropriation is a very controversial topic and funnily enough, as always in these kind of discussions, it can mean very different things depending on who you ask about it.

On a university campus in Claremont, CA 3 Latinx students have contributed to a graffiti wall offered by their educational institution, which has the aim to enable open dialogue and free expression of speech.
Their outspoken statement: “White Girl, take OFF your hoops” resulted in a public outcry by people oversimplifying its massage (“Pitzer College RA: White People Can’t Wear Hoop Earrings”, as published by The Claremont Independent1) and shifting the discussion in an unhelpful direction.

Right, I get it – us, liberal SO totally tolerant university-educated geniuses don’t like to be told what to do, but if we had made the effort to inquire about the intended message beforehead instead of illegally publishing their names without consent and denouncing them as being double-standard perpetrating snowflakes, they would have told us something like this:

Latinx women are forced to assimilate into academia to be respected while their struggles remain invisible to the institutions. While navigating educational settings that automatically view us as unprofessional and unintelligent, women and nonbinary femmes of color are stripped of our hoops and our browness. As long as we conform to their standards, our existences can be legitimized, our voices can be heard and our contributions can be deemed as worthy by the white classmates and faculty that dominate academic spaces.

If we don’t conform, it becomes difficult to access campus resources, find job opportunities and create professional networks. Despite erasure, institutions knowingly label forced assimilation as a process of “professional socialization” rather than a process that violently strips identities and culture from women and nonbinary femmes of color.  On the other hand, white upper-class elite women are able to appropriate fashion created by marginalized groups with no consequences to their well-being, social acceptance, and academic success.”2

The significant difference then, is that privileged folk have what some have called ‘the benefit of the doubt3 – even if I engage in the same behaviours as people of colour, my community including people in powerful position that can change what resources I can access or what opportunities I will be offered will refrain from judging my worth as a person or a professional long enough so I can demonstrate my actual value.

If we listen to these 3 students, they will not tell us “fucking stop wearing my earrings”, what they are asking for is to live in a world that permits them to do the same without facing social ‘persecution’.

To me, what it all boils down to, is the problem that we have social injustice which we help to maintain (partly by cultural appropriation) without contributing to having a societal conversation about how to dismantle this present state of oppression.

I wonder, if any of the representatives of the university listened to this reality when brought forward by latinx students in the past – my educated guess is No.

And so how come when they resort to attempting to open a dialogue about their struggles which quite possibly could be their last resort, we respond in a way that doesn’t enable an open discussion?

Actually, The Claremont Independent demonstrated quite impressing what you should not do in these circumstances: jumping to conclusions based on one’s own presumptuous attitudes, not consult the authors of the controversial statements and altogether deny their voice to the very people to attempted to make themselves heard.

Clearly, no irony there…

Our biases influence the way we engage with challenge. So why do some people celebrate the deliberately controversial statements by the oh-so-very-serious-and-qualified Tomi Lahren, affirming the idea of open dialogue and free speech, while simultaneously shouting down 3 university students without offering them the same opportunities.

While personally I might not be entirely in favour of their graffiti statement, I am sure as hell not in favour of the treatment these 3 courageous people have received, and most essentially, this illustrates that we need people like them to speak up, because we still have not managed to enable real liberty of speech and expression.


1 http://claremontindependent.com/pitzer-college-ra-white-people-cant-wear-hoop-earrings/

2 http://www.latinorebels.com/2017/03/14/a-message-from-the-latinas-who-made-the-white-girl-take-off-your-hoops-mural/?w3tc_note=flush_pgcache

3 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/why-im-a-racist_us_57893b9ee4b0e7c873500382

Source of featured image:  https://www.google.es/search?q=take+off+your+hoops&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjU9Pz2tpzTAhXCNxQKHQyGCU0Q_AUICCgB&biw=1396&bih=690#imgrc=SC4FUyuUS24shM:

 

Pride or Prejudice?

As a German, of course, I am generally not too fond of nationalism. Actually, neither of national pride, or patriotism. My oldest argument (which I also have been clinging to since I was 15) is, that I still cannot fathom why one would be proud to come from a certain country, having contributed nothing. But the problem by itself is not the pride – be proud, I really don’t mind. The problem I have is the implied worth, derived from the idea, that if I come from a country, race, religion or background that has managed to create some incredible people, I, too, must be made from this incredible material.

And consequently, people who do not share said background must therefore be inferior, although regarded objectively the contributions of these two people are the same.

I, always, chose to be proud of achievements, of people not because of their nationality, but because of their actions and good deeds. However, not unlike religion, patriotism can motivate people to do amazing things – for example help the more unfortunate, pull together or show solidarity and fight for a common tomorrow.

If patriotism gives people a sense of belonging, if people regretting ‘having but one head to give for my country’, should we not invest in this powerful sentiment? (Although, of course, the truth of this statement can be called into question)

So ultimately, who am I to denounce something that inspires people to make the world a better place?

Am I, then, attributing something to patriotism that has, in reality, to do with something else? And is that not what I criticize day in day out about people who view terrorism being necessarily connected with Islam? Is it possible that I, too, am caught up a bit in my very own leftist echo chamber?

In any case, I would like to propose a change of conceptualization of patriotism that would facilitate inclusion and, in my opinion, is far more appropriate for the world we find ourselves in today.
National states were created to stratify the landscape appropriately and enable people to be governed in a way, which could reflect their origin, culture and so arguably ultimately their interests. That is conceivably sensible, if one can ensure that these national states  are reasonably homogeneous. However, I believe that as soon as we approach our present state, i.e. diversified communities made up of people from all strides of life as well as from all parts of the world, we should not focus on our pride for a country anymore but rather on our pride for our communities.

Thereby, the ‘membership criteria’ would be far less narrow, not based upon colour or creed and we would actually be proud to belong to something we contribute to.

A few days ago, I went to do some voluntary work and told a co-worker some of my problems with my family and a few hugs, a coffee and a good chat later I felt much better. 1 hour later, when another friend needed help, I sat down with her and we talked it over.

I am bloody proud to belong to a community where people encourage each other, cherish each other and make space for each other. However, I will never going to be proud to be German, because some amazing people also happened to come from the same country.


Source of featured image: https://www.google.es/search?q=patriotism&espv=2&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi_4KDEk4HTAhUEAcAKHYwrDrEQ_AUICCgB&biw=1396&bih=668#imgrc=3ZylYh72qaPOqM:

What is the measure of a woman?

Today I saw a video by the wonderful Mayim Bialik¹, in which she takes offense to people calling female adults ‘girls. Girls. Although these supposed girls have jobs, families, mortgages and live totally grown-up lives – so why do we insist on calling them like that?

Mayim sees this as part of the patriarchal system that does not permit women to be regarded quite in the same way as men, which sounds in Mayim’s own words like that:

When we use words to describe adult women that are typically used to describe children, it changes the way we view women — even unconsciously, so that we don’t equate them with adult men. […]. Maybe if we start using language that elevates women and doesn’t equate them with sweet, small, cuddly, tender things, we’ll start treating them as more than that as well.

As always in the case of feminist posts on social media, the comment section featured loads of diversion and denial of this issue, what I think is really a shame because it is a real issue.

Actually people do call grown men boys all the time

Actually yes, we do indeed in certain circumstances call grown men “boy”

Mayim…. there are bigger issues to tackle. I’m a lot older than you and to me you are a sweet, very intelligent, talented girl…There

But that is not the flipping point!

Maybe it’s not cool either to call a men a ‘boy’ and maybe there are other issues as well out there, but what kind of twisted logic do you have to utilize to  come up with the conclusion it therefore does not matter?

And to the people criticizing her for not using her voice for calling put more pressing issues I will say this: In your comment you chose to use your voice to diminish and negate the impact that this harmful habit has and instead of getting on board to make our world a more just place you used your voice to justify harmful patterns of socialization.

So why do I, personally, think we really should stop calling women ‘girls’?

Because it sends a message. We don’t live in a vacuum – everything we say and more specifically our choice of words influences not only our worldview and our actions but also the ones of the people around us substantially.
Calling somebody ‘girl’ instead of ‘woman’ means to diminish this person’s agency, competency and ultimately influences their role within the interactions that may follow.

And I get it, I like to use phrases like “you go, girl!” or “damn girl!” as a way of endearment, but honestly: There is a huge difference between using these phrases with a good friend, that knows that you cherish and respect them and creating a status quo in which we refer to grown ass women as girls (or grown ass men as boys for that matter) regardless if we know them or not and which relation we have to them.

I share this sentiment also personally: I am a man, not a boy. Especially I do not appreciate being referred to as a ‘boy’ in a context of sexual relations or dating, because let’s face it, although we are really used to doing it – it’s just plain bullshit.

I do not want to advocate a ‘ban’ on a word – I am simply advocating for a more conscious use of our language.

Especially one comment, by one brave young women who shared part of her family history to illustrate why this matters to her, amazed me beyond belief:

I find this funny, why? because my mother and father in-law were the first generation of free black folks in their families. If either of them wanted to, in a quiet way disrespect either a man or woman they were called “boy” or “girl” it was their only recourse for years of abuse….

Imagine that?


¹ https://www.facebook.com/pg/MissMayim/videos/?ref=page_internal

Featured image: https://www.google.es/search?espv=2&biw=1396&bih=668&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=mayim+bialik+feminist&oq=mayim+bialik+feminist&gs_l=img.3…14490.15561.0.16829.9.9.0.0.0.0.128.848.7j2.9.0….0…1c.1.64.img..0.2.223…0j0i67k1.V6a5PNYhLhE#imgrc=y3LmxjaZnyOFDM:

 

Why am I a Feminist?

On the 8th of March, I attended the Feminist demonstration in Madrid for the international women’s day. It was amazing, to see all these people on the streets shouting, singing, dancing and laughing away for a better tomorrow.

But one thing really stuck with me – I spotted a woman with a sign, that said ‘You think you can’t change anything by yourself, but you’re not alone – we’re millions. And this is literally true. Half a million people demonstrating against patriarchy in Madrid1, 160000 people demonstrating in Barcelona for more refugees2 and many people more in all the different parts of our countries. And let’s be clear here, that does not include all those that, because of mental distress or their disabilities could not be with us that day. However, they are no less crucial to the success of our movement and a really good inactivate from the USA showed how we can include them more in the future!3

I then looked around myself and noticed this amazing diversity of age, background, origin etcetera. But isn’t this the perfect example of positive integration, women and men and everything in between shouting out feminist slogans in the language of their country of residence – standing up for the same thing (admittedly in slightly weird accent such as my own) regardless of where they came from?

I do not know why they felt part of this movement and decided to protest in the streets of their city that day, but I know why I am a feminist and why I am sure to be one for many years. Within this post I wanted to talk about why I am a feminist, since this topic seems to be rather hotly debated in nearly every corner of the internet and to be quite honest I was not really happy with a lot of stereotypes that are out there about feminists.

So, why AM I a feminist?
The first time I heard about feminism, my sister told me about it, and you all how hot it is with love among siblings – I, of course, had to be against it.
In Germany, the movement is not as big as it should be in my opinion, so I did not come into direct contact with it until university.
In these days, and even know, although a little less, my worldview was very positivistic. That is, I believed in ‘the one’ truth and naturally I based my opinions upon my lived experiences. Now, it is not very surprising that my idea of the world back then, being a white, middle-class, straight, cis, non-religious man did not coincide with what feminism had to offer.

What changed my outlook ultimately was work. I found myself in the situation to deal with drug-addicts that have led lives so difficult and so far removed from what I grew up with that I was quite anxious that I would not be able to show empathy or most essentially understand what was going on for them.
And I get that the connection to feminism is not apparent at this point, so let me explain:

Feminism went through a period of change, which some people might label a dilution of the fight for women, but I think what the mean is the move away from an exclusivity to advocate white women’s’ rights. They went on to incorporate LGBT+ struggles, islamophobia, racism, ableism and more into their agenda.

However, this meant that they had to listen: the core group of feminist had not lived these forms of oppression. So ultimately, what convinced me, was that I found a movement that was willing to listen to those who have troubles to make themselves heard.

Feminism has not let me down since – feminists have, but so have democrats, republicans, socialists, politicians, patriots and family.

 Every time I hear someone denouncing Feminism based on the actions of one person, someone who advocate racist, homophobic or ableist attitudes I want to shout them down.  I do not want to let them spread their hate and harmful opinions. But Feminism taught me, that behind every perpetrator is a person who lived through hard times – and that taught me, how to empathise.

And that’s why I’m a Feminist, because it taught me to listen, to understand and to seek the common aim that we should all aspire to – because Feminism is good for all of us.


¹https://www.cuartopoder.es/invitados/2017/03/08/directo-manifestacion-madrid-dia-internacional-la-mujer/11695

²http://www.upi.com/Top_News/World-News/2017/02/18/160000-join-pro-refugee-protest-in-Barcelona/2391487467508/

³http://mashable.com/2017/01/18/disability-march-womens-march-on-washington/#oy2wJBmyTmqs

featured image: https://www.google.es/search?q=womens+march+sign+hijab&espv=2&tbm=isch&imgil=v8qQMGKWZ9cruM%253A%253B_L1HfYwNSOZ-KM%253Bhttps%25253A%25252F%25252Fwww.getreligion.org%25252Fgetreligion%25252F2017%25252F1%25252F22%25252Fhijabs-were-the-big-religion-issue-in-the-womens-march&source=iu&pf=m&fir=v8qQMGKWZ9cruM%253A%252C_L1HfYwNSOZ-KM%252C_&usg=__-PuVJebP1JjbP080XcxMvZPuxgg%3D&biw=1536&bih=686&ved=0ahUKEwje-Puq7efSAhXmJ8AKHWBjCC8QyjcINw&ei=2z7RWJ6fF-bPgAbgxqH4Ag#imgrc=v8qQMGKWZ9cruM:

 

Double Standards

Double Standards. 

Double Standards are truly at the heart of an unequal society. The notion to judge something by a different metric solely based on superficial characteristics sounds downright absurd, doesn’t it?

The thing is, that these ideas are normalized within our society and therefore preserve themselves. How we notice them, is by listening to people who experience these on a daily basis and thus start to question their validity. 

THIS is why the phenomenon of ‘the bubble‘ is so dangerous; because we start relying on sources to provide information to us that do not only have similar opinions, but also have lived through similar experiences.

In the abstract, this does not seem so bad, but what it does is shielding us from encountering evidence that might refute or challenge the established worldview within our milieus.

That, ultimately, will infer with creating more equal communities – so let’s listen a bit more and remember that maybe our place is not to tell people that their experiences do not reflect our reality, but to adapt our view of reality to fit the experiences that real people face every day.

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon these great illustrations of double standards women face¹, and I think they illustrate really well, how we apply different criteria to women in certain situations.

Enjoy!

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woman-relationships-finalwoman-sex-finalwoman-work-final-1


1 https://shareably.net/double-standards-women-illustrations/