Friday, 17 September 2010

A one track mind, but not blinkered

I really enjoyed The F Word Interview with Zoe Margolis, she's very frank and passionate about her views and it's refreshing to see someone in the mainstream talking so clearly about the fine line between empowerment and objectification. Often people misunderstand feminist objections to sexualised images, and, from what I've read, feminists themselves can sometimes seem confused about what they're actually fighting about! Abby Lee, Margolis' persona for the Girl With a One Track Mind blog/book, was destroyed by the media's desperate need to expose her real identity, so she is well placed to make statements like this - people have heard of her, and her notoriety makes her interesting to more than the usual feminist audience.

It's also exciting to see that she takes on the female magazine market:
My experience was a microcosm of what happens to women generally in society and women in the public eye especially: being outed, threatened and blackmailed. That type of shit goes on every single day in celebrity magazines and women’s magazines. Women should be questioning that when they buy into it - they’re buying into someone else’s misfortune and a very misogynistic view of women. I wanted to show that’s the reality. Women need to stop literally buying into it and supporting it. We need to question ‘why are we always talking about what women look like, what they wear and their sex lives?’

People say, “well, women buy these magazines so it’s what women want to read”.

But that’s what women are being given, there’s no fucking alternative. You’ll find the same stories in them all: they’re all dumbed down, patronising and very similar in style. Sometimes you’ll find something really radical and intelligent, but that’s not enough when 95% of the magazine is sexist conditioning. I do think women want more - the average woman who wouldn’t call herself a feminist, likes Heat and isn’t particularly political. But with no alternative provided, you have to take what there is: it’s that, or reading nothing at all.

There really aren't any alternatives on the high street, but if you're interested in a different women's magazine that doesn't sell the commodities of sex, objectification and beauty, you won't go far wrong with Filament magazine, but be warned, it's got an 18 certificate! (I think Zoe has even written a guest article in a previous issue)

Thank you, Zoe, for continuing to question our f*cked up society and trying to take the shame out of sex. You've proven they can't take you down, you will continue to say what needs to be said and hopefully, one day, women won't be shamed for having desires.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Toys that we like

Previous post had me thinking about what kinds of toys NP plays with, and why it is that she likes them. And you know what? The stuff she likes is the stuff we show interest in with her. Not just her mom and dad, but her grandparents too, the people she spends her time with. What a surprise?!

Her most favourite thing of all time? Trains. Usually Thomas, but not always. Every single member of her family has encouraged this interest by buying her trains, playing with them, taking her on train rides and talking about them. Her favourite thing to do during a day at home is to take out the top draw of her toy box and empty the whole lot of cars, trains and other vehicles onto the floor, then delight in organising them!

Second favourite, her gazillions of cuddly toys - she has 'a family' including Baby Little Spongebob, Big Mommy Spongebob and Daddy Patrick. Again, her whole family know how much she loves her toys and we all talk about them regularly. These toys are her bedtime entertainment mornings and evenings, she tells them stories, looks after them and projects her fears of badgers and squirrels onto them. Mommy normally eats the badgers these days though.

Another fave is probably musical instruments, tambourines, bells, keyboard, annoying noisy toys. Know why? Probably because there's a bunch of our real and toy instruments lying around, to-wit: 3 guitars (acoustic, electric and bass); my flute, recorder, rock band guitar, drums and mic; a box full of hand-held percussion items and an upright piano.

Otherwise, she likes anything she can make stories up with, little characters that she gives directions and a continuous monologue of their daily lives; or books. This kid devours books. It makes a librarian's daughter proud.

So I find it difficult to agree when people say that young kids decide on their tastes without influence from their family. The stuff she likes are the things we've encouraged, the stuff she gets excited over are the things we get excited over. She likes Star Wars because mommy is only too happy to oblige with the 10th re-watch of Return of the Jedi. She's not the picture of girly-girlness, that's for sure.

Nevertheless, she likes wearing jewellery, hair clips and painting her fingernails. Course she does, it's fun, it's like dressing up. Everyone likes dressing up. I never really bother with playing that kind of game with her, besides getting decked out in crazy outfits or making a hair cut a fun game. But she sees me get dressed up and spend ages in front of the mirror so I'm obviously modelling behaviour for her, even if I don't wear make-up. Thus, even the things I don't actively engage her with, if she sees me doing them, she wants to do them too. Thankfully, I have a little control over that and can modify my own behaviour by considering how it looks in her eyes.

It's going to change when peer pressure becomes part of her life, but all we can do is keep talking and challenging her. Until then, I know I'm going to get plenty of enjoyment from playing with the toys we both enjoy.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Child returns to nursery, mom returns to the world at large

It has probably not escaped your attention that I've been absent since July. Hey, what happened in July? Oh, just my lovely daughter 24/7!

I don't begrudge her, but it's been a tough time.

Anyway, anyone interested in little girls and gender roles should go read this blog passed on to me via a lovely friend, who got it from the beautiful and talented Felicia Day who I didn't realise had done anything awesome since Buffy, but she did, and she is (awesome, that is).

A taste of what Jolie O'Dell has to say on the subject of Women in Tech (from the first link):
"So, to all the special interest groups and fine individuals with fine intentions, I ask you one favor: Please stop pushing for more women in tech, and find a young girl to mentor instead. When she is young, give her “boy toys” and video games. If she wants one, get her a laptop instead of jewelry for her birthday. Tell her not to worry about flirting or her hair. Send her to a computer science camp or space camp. Encourage her to take advanced maths and sciences in school and to enter a computer science degree program."
Awesome too, right?

I'll try and write more soon, but I have another project I'm working on, which I might end up linking here, or I might keep anonymous, not sure yet.

Leave a comment guys if you're still here, please help my overwrought-mommy-ego!!