Wednesday was Blogging against Disablism Day, and there are links to lots of interesting posts up at Diary of a Goldfish.
The standard stereotypes of teenage girls are pretty negative – vain, shallow, gossipy and cruel Mean Girls or simply sex objects. This matters because it is what girls and young women hear about themselves. So it’s really great to see teenage girls not just doing well, but being extraordinary. It’s a little dent in the stereotype, a little bit of inspiration. So here are a few I’ve notice in the news recently:
Firstly, the 18 year-old weightlifter Zoe Smith – not only has she won a bronze medal at Commonwealth Games, and broken the British clean and jerk record, but she has also responded amazingly to sexist trolls –
we don’t lift weights in order to look hot, especially for the likes of men like that. What makes them think that we even WANT them to find us attractive? If you do, thanks very much, we’re flattered. But if you don’t, why do you really need to voice this opinion in the first place, and what makes you think we actually give a toss that you, personally, do not find us attractive? What do you want us to do? Shall we stop weightlifting, amend our diet in order to completely get rid of our ‘manly’ muscles, and become housewives in the sheer hope that one day you will look more favourably upon us and we might actually have a shot with you?! Cause you are clearly the kindest, most attractive type of man to grace the earth with your presence.
Secondly, three American high school students, Emma Axelrod, Sammi Siegel and Elena Tsemberis, launched a petition on Change.org for at least one of the moderators in the American Presidential debates to be a woman. It worked – Candy Crowley is moderating the second presidential debate, and another woman, Martha Raddatz, is moderating the vice presidential debate.
Thirdly, Bashaer Othman has become the world’s youngest mayor at the age of 15. Impressive!
And lastly, the winner of the Google Science Fair Grand Prize, Brittany Wenger, who has developed a computer program to improve diagnosis of breast cancer. At the age of 17.
A really transphobic, offensive, inflammatory advertisement for Paddy Power has been pulled because people complained about it. While of course it is awful that the advert was created and shown in the first place, but at least the response shows progress. And hopefully in the future advertisers will think more carefully about the depiction of transgender people.
(via The F-Word)
I discovered The Mountain Goats when blue milk posted about their rather glorious rant at Lego for being sexist. It turns out, their songs are awesome too. I particularly love ‘You were cool’. It’s about bullying and regrets and growing up and solidarity. The idea of thinking someone is brilliant but never quite being brave enough to say it really resonates with me.
Last weekend I went to the Go Feminist Conference in London. It was brilliant! I went with some lovely people from Feminist Action Cambridge. I also ran into Catherine Redfern again, and met Helen from Bird of Paradox, who was extremely gracious and lovely when I went ‘HELLO! I know you from the Internetz!’.
The first session I went to was on intersectionality, which was very thought provoking. There was lots of discussion of different kinds of privilege and oppression, and how we need be conscious of our own assumptions and advantages. There were a few moments of glaringly ironic awkwardness – one activity involved stepping forward or stepping back in response to statements read out, and it would have been good if the presence of the person in a wheel-chair clearly not doing any stepping had been acknowledged. But then one of the main points of the workshop was recognising that everyone does make mistakes, and it’s important to acknowledge those and work on improving things for the future, which the facilitators themselves demonstrated. I really enjoyed the group discussion in this session. We discussed how to make events more accessible and one idea I liked from this was having ‘accessibility volunteers’ on hand to assist anyone who might need them.
The session on sexism in the media was fascinating. I loved Bidisha‘s take on the lack of female panellist on TV shows – along the lines of ‘It’s just sexism. They’re being sexists. That’s it. There are no excuses. It’s clearly sexism.’
The final panel discussion, on activism, was simultaneously the most hard-hitting and the most inspiring. There is such an amazing legacy of activism, of women working for years, against incredible opposition, in difficult personal circumstances. The conference showcased some incredible role models, women like Orna Ross, Hannana Siddiqui and Sophia Kahlu, but it also revealed how much more needs to be done, and how hard it will be.
The conference has been praised elsewhere for its accessibility and emphasis on intersectionality, and that was that was evident in the diversity of speakers, the topics of the workshops and the practical arrangements. I don’t think I’ve ever been to an event so centred around inclusiveness – it was an essential part of the plan of the day, rather than just a tacked-on extra. There was no tokenism, no-one seemed to have been invited to make panels look diverse. Rather the day recognised that there are people in marginalised groups are already doing amazing work on women’s rights and gender-related issues, and their work should be recognised and their views should be heard. It was refreshing to see, and something really needed in feminist thought and activism. I really hope that it becomes a model reflected in other feminist events. Obviously, not all of the practices can be adopted – professional sign language interpretors and transcribers are expensive – but the principles can.
Post at The F-Word, with video
What Glass Ceiling?, interview with Bidisha
Engenderings on accessibility at Go Feminist
We Mixed our Drinks on the Faith and Feminism workshop