By Manya Gupta, India.
Both beauty as a concept with many casualties and the social constructions around body hair removal are frequently discussed topics within feminist media; however, these discussions are often exclusionary towards the people least capable of making the choices now touted as bold and brave and feminist. This article will analyse the history of body hair removal, why it matters that a choice to not participate in the practice exists for women, the intersectional impacts of this issue on women of colour, and my perspective of the path forward. I will also attach a list of resources and personal narratives on the internet that I have found especially empowering and important to listen to.
Before that, I want to acknowledge this: I am from a South Asian country where almost everyone is brown. I am a cis woman. I am upper class. My experiences and understanding of this will differ significantly from that of someone that lives in a more racially diverse place and does not share my privileges. I also recognise that while this specific piece will focus on impacts on women of colour, the impacts of the social taboo around body hair can land just as hard on some women that are white.
By Jake Consing, Philippines.
Imagine a world devoid of labels.
Imagine if no one was “straight,” “gay,” “lesbian,” “bi,” “pan,” or “ase;” where would we be?
Well actually, even the term heterosexuality is a recent invention. Prior to 1868, the term heterosexual did not exist. This was until heterosexuality itself was defined by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing in his book “Psychopathia Sexualis” as an “abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex.” This was, as writer Brandon Ambrosino puts it, only “until 1934 that heterosexuality was graced with the meaning we’re familiar with today: ‘manifestation of sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; normal sexuality.’”
In the past, while sexual behaviors and acts were labeled, there was no attention paid to the sexual orientation of the agent in question. However, while heterosexuality was once seen as an unnatural sexual appetite, throughout history and post the Roman empire, homosexual acts have been vilified and disparaged. Before homosexuality, the only word we were referred to by was “sodomite” – sodomites who burnt Sodom and Gomorrah to the ground, sodomites whose acts of love were seen as abominations in the eyes of God, sodomites who were tortured and killed on the streets, sodomites who were stoned to death by God’s people. For the longest time, this is what we had: a term whose closest synonym was sin.
By Avital Stahl, Israel.
Feminism, and specifically its latest waves is often strongly connected to progressivism and radical social change. religion, is strongly connected to traditionalism and stagnation. When looking at today's burning social issues- LGBT rights, equality between the sexes, gender norms or abortions, it seems pretty obvious that feminism and religion can't really go hand in hand. To a certain extent this is a true statement, but if growing up in Israel- which is both a liberal democracy and a country with deep rooted religious connection- has taught me one thing, it’s that seemingly incompatible ideologies can go together, and surprisingly well.
From the very beginning, Israel was a state that saw equality as an important societal value. starting out as a somewhat socialist state, made up mostly of kibbutzim (collectivist communities that were traditionally based on agriculture), women and men worked the fields equally. Children were placed in communal children's home where they spent most of their time away from their parents, so as not to disturb the woman's work. From the official foundation of Israel in 1948, women had voting rights. Equal pay laws were put in place in the early 1960’s. abortion was largely legalized in the 1970’s and anti harassment laws were put in place in the 1990’s, before many European countries. Both men and women in Israel have to serve in the military, and by the early 2000’s 85% percent of army jobs were open to both men and women, making the IDF the most equal military of any country in the world.
By Saara Meghji, Canada.
As discussed previously on this blog, the experiences that individuals have with feminism are vastly different based on various identities and life circumstances. Mental illness is no exception. Due to the preexisting stigma attached to mental illness in today’s world, individuals struggling with maintaining their mental health are often afraid to openly discuss the incredibly valid issues they are going through, for fear of judgement or of being dismissed. However, one of the many ways in which that stigma can be lifted is through the feminist movement doing more to acknowledge the stigmatization of mental health as another byproduct of destructive patriarchal norms.
***DISCLAIMER: Mental illnesses in their entirety cannot be wholly attributed to the causes identified in this post; everyone has vastly different lived experiences which can in no way just be summed up through my own individual perspective on/experience with this issue. This post is just to shed light on how the patriarchy plays a harmful role in increasing the stigma which exists around individuals with mental illness.
By Chelsea Nagrey, Malaysia.
“You wanted it,” “you asked for it,” “it’s your fault for wearing clothes like that,” and the cycle of such comments goes on and on and on. The notorious subject never ends – men continue to objectify women and play the ‘dressing’ card after they’ve had their ‘fun’ with them, with us.
Have you ever had anyone tell you to pull down your skirt so that men don’t stare at your ass? Or to pull your shirt up so men can’t take advantage of you? Well it happens to women, every single day. So today we talk about how women are portrayed in society and why they never seem to be able to wear anything they like without being sexualised and victimised by men.
By Sara Shafek, Malaysia.
The number of shackles society places on women is crazy. People go to great lengths proving their point by using science and history to make sure women get denied from bastions of opportunities. But most of all, the biggest ‘justification’ that often hits home is on the basis of religion. For a great number of women including myself, religion is important. It is arguable that my profound belief in religion is harvested from years and years of indoctrination at home and in school but it doesn’t take away the fact that I genuinely find solace in opting into religion. Religion gives me purpose in life, to wake up, to study and simply enough, to live.
By Eju Ro, South Korea.
“I raise up my voice—not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard…we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.” – Malala Yousafzai
Last week, I came across a post of a female high school student calling out the issue of sexual harassment at her high school--a post that called for an end to such instances on campus. Unfortunately, she received unexpected backlash from some peers who called her an “attention whore” for unnecessarily publicizing an issue that could have been kept among only the people directly involved. In essence, her purpose of connecting that one instance to a larger cause–eradicating sexual harassment on campus--was largely ignored.
When oppressed individuals utilize social media as a platform to raise their voices, they are not asking for attention to themselves; they are asking for attention to the issue at hand. They are asking for people to listen because they know that staying silent will keep them wandering in circles. Change is but a far-fetched dream when the dominant groups in society (men, white people, etc.) refuse to acknowledge the necessity for action. Because these dominant groups do not relate on a personal level to the obstacles faced by minorities, empathy and attention can only be grasped with the use of social media as a microphone.
Issues on this page include a recollection or commentary on events that occur in a local, national, or international setting.