Do My Feminist Politics Annoy You? Twitter, Trolls and Tidying Up Your Timeline

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When I write film reviews, lovely geeky nerds discuss my ideas, adding their own opinions to the thread and we have a lovely old time. When I post articles about food, or recipes and even veganism, the internet respectfully disagrees with my personal hatred of tofu and we all have a lovely old time.

But for some reason, whenever I write about feminism, or tweet to a hashtag related to feminism or gender issues, the trolls stir. They come out from under their bridges and we don’t have the same-old lovely time. When I talk about feminism, the Internet wants to shut me up. This negativity increased when I started blogging for the Huffington Post where my work is visible to many more readers.

Here’s an example. Last week I wrote about the LinkedIn ‘compliment’ debacle and was promptly told I didn’t understand sexism, labelled a ‘feminazi’ along with pretty much any other woman who commented Charlotte Proudman’s defence as well as receiving ironic jibes like this:

On Wednesday I tweeted to the trending hashtag #MasculinitySoFragile which points out; ways in which masculinity restricts men, encourages damaging attitudes and behaviour, how easily men can feel their masculinity is threatened and how media reinforces these stereotypes which constrain men. But, obviously, the finer details of this hashtag were lost on some:

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(I never claimed to know what it’s like to be a man, only to know what it’s like to be a woman, harassed often by men who appear to be struggling under the crippling weight of their unstable and socially constructed masculinity…but that was well over 140 characters).

2015-09-24-1443110025-6252304-12028925_10208027362701308_207690180_n.jpg (That last one is just bizarre…)

These are only recent examples of the irritation that feminism (the old ‘equal rights for men and women’ bandwagon *yawns sarcastically*) causes some people. Many feminists (most notably, women) have received much more graphic abuse. Last year, journalist Caroline CriadoPerez wrote about the torrents of violent, graphic abuse she received from ‘trolls’ online, that Twitter actually enables.

And, after taking a stand against Sheffield United’s potential re-signing of convicted rapist Ched Evans last year, Olympic heptathlete Champion Jessica Ennis-Hillreceived rape threats online whilst she was pregnant.

Even when Twitter users the world over discussed toxicity of constructed masculinity, through the afore-mentioned #MasulinitySoFragile, the responses from anti-feminists were misogynistic and violent as pictured below:

(Missing AND proving the point of the hashtag simultaneously – well done!)

(Ooh, ouch. Now maybe they STILL won’t go out with you).

(The hashtag is trying to ADVOCATE for those men too…come on).

A lot of the women being abused were advocating for men; exposing the external social pressures put on men to behave in a stereotypically ‘masculine’ way, or specifically challenging the actions of people who behave misogynistically. When I wrote about Charlotte Proudman’s response to unprofessional sexism, many people exclaimed rhetorically, ‘what world are we living in when you can’t even compliment a woman?’ – before promptly insulting many women who were speaking up about sexism in the workplace… And when a pregnant Jessica Ennis-Hill used her status as a sporting star to advocate for the respect of survivors of sexual abuse, she was threatened with that same abuse.

So, far from sexism not existing or feminism being ‘crazy’, it would appear that from these limited examples of oppressive responses to feminism, the Internet doesn’t want people to even talk about gender inequality. Especially not women.

Personally, I block most of the users who abuse, threaten or harass me and other feminists. As an activist and writer, I produce work that (I hope) opens people’s minds to considering another way of being – a way of acceptance, not hate. I’ll spend a few hours or days crafting a piece of work that I’m proud of, submit it to my blog or the Huffington Post, where fellow feminists and others can read it and respond kindly, often challenging me, in a respectful and productive way.

But then some cartoon AVI’d self-defining ‘meninist’ can roll in with an unironic ‘#FeministsAreUgly’ emblazoned bio. “Following: 14,000, followers: 47” – you’ve seen them. I imagine they’re the kind of people who love page 3 but would scold a publicly breast-feeding mother, or perhaps they’d describe Nigel Farage as ‘alright’. They’ll call me ‘sexist’ or ‘ugly’ or some other derogatory, uninformed or irrelevant insult, possibly before they’ve finished reading the headline of my article. They’ll lay in wait, cruising the #everydaysexism thread for users (mostly with ‘feminist’ in their bio) to bother or harass. They don’t care enough about your argument, or their own, to actually do anything about it, but in one poxy comment a ‘troll’ can (try to) poke a hole through your politics and, in turn your confidence. To put it simply: don’t let them.

(And if you’re poised, typing, “just don’t go on Twitter, idiot”, I must ask, why? Why should I opt out of an outlet where I can discuss issues of gender inequality, mine and others’ experiences of sexism and harassment just because some idiot with an iPhone and more free-time than sense decides that my feminist politics annoys them?)

Internet trolls are afforded a level of anonymity that other users are not – I am held accountable to my opinions because I base them in fact, and reasonable opinion. But when you base your opinion on little more than biased ignorance, you are accountable to nothing – because there’s nothing of substance to account for.

So, forgive me Internet ‘Trolls’, but I really don’t want to talk to you or allow you to abuse me.

It’s not that you’re not entitled to your opinion. We all are. The great thing about our modern age is that everybody is afforded an online platform for their views. Nowadays, anyone can stand atop a virtual soapbox and pontificate digitally. Sadly, this does mean that a lot of people who don’t put much thought or care into their armchair-views and opinions can also sit there; phone in one hand, probably a pipe of Pringles stuck on the other, spewing ill-thought-out and often plain-old mean rubbish into the timelines of others.

Trolls, you are allowed your opinions and nothing is stopping you from voicing them. Hell, you’re allowed to comment on my opinions in this post, for I have put them out there to be engaged with. But here’s the important bit: just having an opinion doesn’t make it valid. What makes it valid is whether it’s based in fact or ignorance and, if it’s the latter, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re probably an idiot and you’re probably going to get blocked.

But of course, that’s just my opinion, and you’re free to acknowledge or discount it accordingly.

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This article was originally published on by The Huffington Post UK on 24th September 2015 and is view-able here.

A Beginner’s Guide to Going Vegan: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Turned to the Dark Side

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This blog was originally published on the Huffington Post UK site here.

As a former meat-eater from a family of omnivores (meat and plant eaters) when I first went vegan I was clueless. I’ve written about the early stages of my switch in this post, ‘I could never go vegan: a trial separation’. But in this piece I volunteer myself as your plant-based sensei. If you’re thinking about going vegan or have done so recently, here are 10 helpful insights I wish I knew before I turned to the dark side…

1. You WILL mess up at first

Food labels are confusing. I spent my first month vegan using a lactose-free cheese and boasting about how similar my cheesey pizzas were to the real thing before realising that it had milk products in it… I told myself that it was a genuine mistake, it couldn’t be helped now, and I resolved to not beat myself up over it. ‘Whey’ or ‘whey powder’ is cow’s milk, so before you start jumping with excitement in Tesco clutching a box of would-be vegan biscuits – just double check that there’s no whey hiding in there.

2. Vegan digestion is cray cray…

Without going into any details a plant-based diet does wonders for your insides, especially your digestive system. The fibre in your new diet keeps food moving smoothly through your system, avoiding constipation almost entirely. You’ll notice a huge difference within the first couple of days.

3. Veganism can be alienating

Friends who were supportive of your lifestyle change at first, who may even have said, “if you stick to that vegan thing, I might have a go” are now wary of you because you don’t eat things that they do and that makes them feel uncomfortable. Non-vegans, presumably defensive of their own diet, will become obsessed with the validity of yours and, most notably, where you get your protein from. Over time I learnt that in order to disarm a self-justifying meat-eater, the best way to respond is to keep it simple: You just don’t want to eat animal products anymore. And if they still do, that’s okay too.

4. You WILL get angry and upset

Maybe you’ve watched some documentaries about the food industry, (Vegucated(2010) and Food Inc (2008) being two of my favourites), or maybe you woke up one day and could no longer bear the thought of enslaving animals for your satisfaction or diet. You find yourself getting angry when non-vegans talk about their love of animals, whilst shovelling a bacon sandwich into their mouths… This is because as a new vegan, you feel like you ‘woke up’ – and you can’t understand other people didn’t. It’s an emotional rollercoaster and a few months down the line, when you’ve settled into your new lifestyle, you’ll regret the arguments you had with family members who didn’t want to switch to soya milk and the friends who ‘couldn’t live without meat’ *rolls eyes*.

5. You can still eat out!

Many people labour under the misapprehension that the food-life of a vegan is bland, boring and solitary. But they couldn’t be more wrong. Since I’ve been vegan I’ve eaten more colourful, flavoursome food than before and I didn’t stop eating out with friends and family. While many UK chain restaurants cater to vegans, I suggest letting restaurants know about your dietary requirements when booking to avoid disappointment. Plus, there’s nothing like watching a sad vegan chewing dry brown bread in a restaurant to put other people off plant-based living.

6. Meat-eaters will feel sorry for you

If you were previously vegetarian then the change to veganism won’t’ve been that drastic a transformation for you or the people around you to get used to. But if, like me, you went from full carnivore to vegan overnight then your friends simply won’t believe you when you say you don’t miss any of the foods you stopped consuming, even if the thought of them makes you nauseous now.

7. No two vegans are ever the same

On a vegan diet but not all of your beauty products are vegan? You could practically be lynched online by some vegans for admitting this. ‘May contain traces of milk’ is acceptable to some vegans and sacrilegious to others. But it’s hard to agree 100% with anyone on anything and telling someone they’re ‘not doing veganism right’ could put them off it altogether. Plus, vegan hair products and organic produce can be pricey. So just do what works for YOU.

8. Forums can be great and AWFUL

Online vegan forums can be great when you’re just starting out with your new diet. Personally, I’ve found Liverpool’s ‘Scouseveg’ Facebook group invaluable in terms of support and local restaurant tips. But some forums are a breeding ground for online trolls (vegan and otherwise!) that can be tiresome and annoying: so use them at your own peril.

9. You’re not perfect and that’s okay!

New vegans can feel pressured to conform to an eco-warrior stereotype that, along with not eating animal products, doesn’t take baths, use central heating, drive a car or do anything else that could harm the environment. But why should you hold yourself tirelessly to these stringent standards when your nay-sayers don’t bother? If you’ve made the decision to go vegan, even just diet-wise, you’ve made a really big and positive step to having less of a negative impact on the world and your own body!

10. Tofu scramble is a lie.

I could be letting myself in for a barrage of hate with this one but here goes.

Vegans: Stop trying to make tofu scramble happen, it’s not going to happen.

(If any vegans reading this can honestly make a non-gag-inducing tofu scramble then please, please get in touch and prove me wrong).

For more vegan updates follow me on Twitter @KateMenear and check out my Huff Post Profile.

Header image from Getty Images

Lesions in the Landscape @ FACT Liverpool

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In the final year of my BA I took a module on domestic space and atmosphere. It centred around the idea of how the lives of those who dwell in a space affected its ‘atmosphere’. In The Poetics of Space (1958), the French philosopher Gaston Bachelard says that, “the house is one of the greatest powers of integration for the thoughts, memories and dreams of mankind…Past, present and future give the house different dynamisms.”[1] Bachelard is offering that the atmosphere of a domestic space is moulded by the experiences, memories and imagination of its inhabitants.

The ‘past, present and future’ form an intangible ‘atmosphere’, rather than the inanimate space possessing this ability. So, what happens when these memories fade, or are erased entirely? Does the house cease to be a home? Does the past still matter or even exist? When I visited Lesions in the Landscape I couldn’t get this thought out of my head.

This week I visited my favourite local art gallery of sorts, FACT Liverpool (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) for a blogger preview of their new exhibition Lesions in the Landscape by fine artist Shona Illingworth. Lesions examines the complex individual and social impact of amnesia, a condition in which the capacity to retrieve and form memory is lost. The past, present and future becomes unsteady. Time, unstable.

The exhibit uses 12048544_10207992314745131_1864853022_nvarious mediums to reflect on the experiences
of Claire, a woman living with amnesia, placing her psychological experiences alongside that of
the depopulated island of St Kilda, a remote island 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The overwhelming feeling of the exhibition is that of isolation. When Claire’s memories were lost and the people of St Kilda deserted their homes, what was left? What was real?

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‘The past existing as a space you can’t enter or feel – the future a space you can’t imagine.’ – Claire

A thirteen minute film plays across three large screens in FACT’s darkened exhibit space. With speakers mounted around and above you, the experience is captivating as stunningly eerie moving images of rocks falling and crashing silen tly, irrevocably, immersing the viewer in the moment. On St Kilda we see the remnants of buildings, dwellings, homes-become-ruins where children once played and families once lived and loved, as Claire discusses her amnesia and her disconnection from the world. What stuck out to me most was how difficult the film is to understand; Claire’s vocal is difficult to make out at times, choral singing and loud music are discordant which also distorts the narrative. It struck me, as Claire describes herself as living in, “a world I’ve lost all the information about”, that perhaps this distortion is intentional. The exhibition pushes you away, making you want to understand more, to better show the viewer how difficult it feels to lose your memories, your past and your connection to the world.

 ‘I came home to a house that I was told was home, but that I didn’t know anything about.’ – Claire

12016562_10207992314865134_740728086_nAccording to FACT’s literature on Lesions Claire was 44 years old when a severe case of viral encephalitis left her with a large lesion on the right side of her brain. She woke from a coma to find that she could no longer remember much of her past, including her children. Claire could no longer distinguish or recognise faces, a condition called prosopagnosia and, in addition to losing her memories, she also had anterograde amnesia which is the inability to form new long-term memories. Most of what happens to her on a given day is likely to be forgotten.

What does this feel like? Alienating? Scary? Or perfectly normal to the amnesiac?

Along with the film, the exhibition also hosts an Amnesia Museum which comprises; film, photographs, drawings, objects, 12047414_10207992314985137_1863122499_n
artefacts and documents maps the landscape of amnesia. These
include super 8 images of St Kilda, 3D casts of St Kilda and of brain lesions that cause amnesia (pictured above and inset).

A powerful analogy for the isolating neurological experience of amnesia, Lesions in the Landscape draws together the amnesiac and the ‘island with inaccessible cultural memory’, which embodies this phenomenon of lost connection. Lesions in the Landscape is another in a long line of installations at FACT which discusses mental health and wellbeing in an open and educational way.

12025523_10207992315065139_1368447782_nIt’s an incredibly interesting experience, if a little disconcerting, and the Amnesia Museum will continue to expand as the exhibition tours. Lesions in the Landscape is a project supported by a Large Arts Award from the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health by supporting bright minds in science, the humanities and social sciences, and public engagement. The Wellcome Trust has enabled new scientific study taking forward research into memory retrieval.

You can see Lesions in the Landscape for FREE at FACT from 18 September 2015 – 22 November 2015. 

For more information on FACT’s own site click here.

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[1] Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space (1958). Trans. Maria Jolas. (Boston: Boston UP, 1994) p.6.

Is it a compliment or is it sexist? Flowchart for dummies.

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COMPLIMENT-GATE!

At least that’s what the Daily Mailers are already calling it. (By the way when exactly did the suffix ‘gate’ become a way to belittle an argument from the status of ‘meaningful debate’ to ‘silly feminists over-reacting’?)

Of course I’m referring to this week’s events in the land of commonplace sexism that is the internet, (society, the world, need I go on?) When Charlotte Proudman, a female barrister in human rights law at the Chambers of Michael Mansfield QC, objected to being complimented on her profile picture on the professional CV hosting website LinkedIn, the anti-feminist brigade had offensively branded her a ‘feminazi’ probably before they’d even found her on Twitter.

You can read up on the story in this Guardian article but basically the jist is that Charlotte Proudman received a message from Alexander Carter-Silk, a fellow lawyer via LinkedIn, who told her:

“I appreciate that this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but that is a stunning picture…You definitely win the prize for the best LinkedIn picture I have ever seen.”

Proudman, who specialises in violence against women and girls and is currently undertaking academic research into female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK, responded by telling Carter-Silk she found his message offensive, misogynistic and that she was on LinkedIn for professional purposes rather than “to be objectified by sexist men”. She then posted a screenshot of the exchange onto her Twitter account with the caption:

“How many women @LinkedIn are contacted re physical appearance rather than prof skills?”

Here’s the original tweet:

Since calling out this sexist remark Proudman has been vilified on a multitude of media outlets for outing this man as a sexist. The Daily Mail went for the ‘Look! She’s a hypocrite’ tact:

Notably Proudman’s ‘ogling’ of men took place on Facebook which, and I will split hairs, is notably a social network for friends, and not on a professional network such as LinkedIn. But, sure, let’s glaze right over that very important different.

While others went with these imaginative, scathing and typically selective headlines:

Oh no! She’s murdering chivalry! She’s massacring the medieval practice of men being courteous to women by chastising a man for objectifying her! Yes, that’s the same thing!

On Radio 1’s Newsbeat yesterday I heard one person interviewed comment that, ‘If she’s taken the time to choose the best picture of herself to go on the site then she can’t moan about it being commented on’ – Ahh, it would appear that the ‘she was asking for it’ defense is alive and strong. Alive, strong and idiotic as per usual. Of course she has uploaded a reasonably good profile picture to LinkedIn! Do you have any idea how pointless it is to set up a LinkedIn page with no picture? You may as well not bother. She is advertising herself to potential employers, not potential harassers.

Here’s another popular opinion on the matter:

Yes, perhaps if a woman had complimented Proudman’s LinkedIn picture she might have responded differently. Perhaps she wouldn’t have felt so belittled if a female peer had been more impressed by her looks than her PhD in her male-dominated profession. Perhaps. We don’t know that though as, in the real world, where real things happen, really, she received this ‘compliment’ from a cis-gendered, white, presumably middle-to-upper class male. So, unfortunately, due to his high up place on the privilege scale it’s quite belittling rather than innocently complimenting. This isn’t to say that members from the same social group as you are given a free pass to objectify or ‘compliment’ in an inappropriate manner: inappropriate is inappropriate and we should know that without having to be sat on the social media naughty step.

Very quickly as ‘Compliment gate’ unfolded yesterday I started to see many people jumping to Carter-Silk’s defense rather then Proudman’s and barracking her for the abuse that he was receiving for ‘innocently complimenting’ her. Yes, poor Al’s been publicly named and shamed, and probably received some online abuse, but that’s his fault, not Proudman’s. She was merely cataloging yet another instance of the everyday accepted sexism that many women receive on a weekly if not daily basis, globally, regardless of their race, class, or whether or not they’re packing a PhD in Law. To assert that she should ‘put up with it’ is to say that any of us should be allowed to make somebody feel socially uncomfortable and objectified with no consequence. In fact Carter-Silk is actually ‘allowed’ to make Proudman feel that way, nobody’s stopping him, his rights haven’t been revoked. But if he is allowed to ‘compliment’ her then Proudman is equally allowed to rebuff this if it offends her. She is allowed to stand up to it, just as any other woman would or should be. And yet, she has been shamed equally to Carter-Silk, if not more-so, by many media outlets and individuals for refusing to be passive or silent in the face of objectification – as many media outlets and individuals would prefer women to behave.

But of course, women don’t just receive these ‘compliments’ from strangers on LinkedIn, they can be gifted in the workplace, on the bus, repeatedly on various social media sites or they can even be bellowed unexpectedly down your ear, in the street, at night. No, that’s not inappropriate or intimidating at all is it…

So, I just thought I’d throw my two pennies in with my easy-to-understand flowchart about how and when to give compliments appropriately as, apparently, a lot of us still need some coaching on this one.

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Hopefully that clears things up if there’s anyone reading who’s ever seriously used the phrase, ‘it’s political correctness gone mad.’ But, if you’re still not sure, here’s my advice: Use your common sense. If you feel like you have to pre-cursor a ‘compliment’ with “this is probably horrendously politically incorrect but…” as Alexander Carter-Silk did, then you’re probably right and you probably shouldn’t say it.

#Fearless: For those who missed it, watch my ActionAid talk here!

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(^Me, ever perturbed by patriarchy, speaking at ActionAid UK)

Through the magic of digital technology (and my Dad’s expert filming…) here’s me at international charity ‘s  event in Liverpool talking; victim-blaming, so-called ‘first world feminism’ and .

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Poster from RTN Liverpool’s 2015 event this year

The event took place in Liverpool’s Quaker Meeting House, on the 3rd September 2015, as part of their ‘Fearless’ campaign which aims to end violence against women and girls all over the world.

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ActionAid is an international non-profit organisation that works to end poverty and violence all over the world.

I was invited by ActionAid to talk about my own experiences as well as the local issues that women and girls face in the UK. I touch on violence, victim-blaming, so-called ‘first world feminism’ and anti-feminist backlash in the UK.

Please excuse the post-match-Steven-Gerrard ‘errrms’, I’m working on it!

TW: Some mention of sexual assault and rape.

You can find more information about the Fearless campaign and how to end violence against women on my last blog post (link to petition is at the end of the post!) here.

Or go directly to ActionAid’s site.

You can find out more about RTN Liverpool and how to get involved next year by checking out our Facebook and Twitter pages.

Liverpool ActionAid Event: The UN, sustainable development and how you can help!

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Last week I posted a blog about an upcoming event in Liverpool, hosted by the international charity ActionAid, as part of their Fearless campaign.

If you didn’t catch this post you can click the hyperlink to see ActionAid’s page about the campaign or, as a quick recap, here’s a basic rundown of what Fearless is about and what ActionAid are setting out to do.

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The Fearless campaign seeks to end violence against women and girls worldwide. How? In September, global governments will agree a target on eliminating violence against women at the UN General Assembly.

ActionAid are asking David Cameron to push for a target on ending violence at the assembly, to put proper resources behind it, and to make sure women’s organisations are involved from the start. (You can get involved by signing their petition here!)

So! Now that you’re up to speed I’ll get back to last week’s event on the 3rd September 2015, in Liverpool’s Quaker Meeting House. Joining us in speaking at the event were Tiwonge Gwondwe, a women’s rights activist from Malawi and Dan Hale, who manages ActionAid’s Women’s Rights Campaign.

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Due to Tiwonge’s visa not arriving in time she was, unfortunately, only able to join us via Skype but her story and her work were vital, moving and enriching none the less. I won’t go into the details of Tiwonge’s own domestic abuse, so as not to detract from her own voice, but her strength and the work she does now to support women suffering from violence (domestic and otherwise) is truly inspiring. According to Dan, who has met Tiwonge in Malawi, she is a bit of a livewire too and I hope I have the pleasure of meeting her when she gets to the UK this year.

Next, Dan talked to us about the campaign and why September is important. This is where I learned some of the finer details about the Fearless campaign and what’s happening at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

On September 25th 2015, 193 world leaders will commit to and launch 17 goals to achieve 3 extraordinary things in the next 15 years.

These extraordinary things are to:

  • End extreme poverty.
  • Fight inequality & injustice.
  • Fix climate change.

The Global Goals for sustainable development could get these things done. In all countries. For all people.

There are 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs) with 169 targets in contrast to the 8 Millennium Development Goals with 21 targets which although productive were quite narrow. Confusing right? I couldn’t keep track of the numbers either but hey, complex issues call for complex solutions and the UN agrees.

“The complex challenges that exist in the world today demand that a wide range of issues is covered. It is, also, critical to address the root causes of the problems and not only of the symptoms.” (1)

So how do these SDGs relate to the Fearless campaign?

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The bottom line is, even the greatest politicians often over promise and under deliver. SDG No.5 is to “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” The Fearless campaign wants to make sure that our world leaders see this one through.

So, after Dan had clued us all up on the nitty gritty of the Fearless campaign, I talked a bit about the problems that women face closer to home, in Liverpool specifically and the UK more broadly. I also spoke about Reclaim the Night Liverpool, a women’s rights group that I am involved with who campaign for an end to violence against women as well as other issues such as street harassment and victim-blaming.

I discussed the problems women face for being outwardly feminist in the UK, as well as for simply just ‘being’. I dissected the notion of ‘asking for it’, as well as the anti-feminist backlash that many feminists face in their daily lives.

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By backlash I’m referring to the tide of anti-feminism that seems to be sweeping the UK and other ‘first world’ countries. Where women and feminists are repeatedly told to, ‘calm down’, ‘take it as a compliment’, or my personal favourite, ‘there are people dying in the world and you’re moaning about this?’

Giving up on one fight because there’s a nastier one happening on the other side of the world isn’t going to solve anything.

BUT it is going to halt gender equality in its tracks. And that’s exactly the kind of thinking that fuels patriarchy and gender inequality.

So the next time you point out flagrant sexism in advertising, on the internet or in your workplace and somebody tells you to stop moaning because some other bad things are happening somewhere else too – (side note: umm ok thanks for ur amazing input u shud right a book srsly) – just remember that inequality is inequality. It happens all over the world, it’s all crappy, it all deserves empathy and remaining silent in the face of any type of inequality never solved anything. So if you want to speak up, then do it!

After my talk there was a round-table discussion with the attendees that I am loathed to admit I was originally nervous for and skeptical of. But it was fantastic. I moved around different tables being asked questions and engaging in discussion with different people, of all ages and backgrounds. We talked about Reclaim The Night Liverpool’s campaign and history, Fearless women and icons we might know or look up to, what we can do to further the campaign as well as touching on allyship, feminist movements and even feminist film!

By the end of the night there was such a buzz in the room that Wiz, the Activism Officer for ActionAid UK, had to break up talks as we’d run over and the ActionAid team had a train to catch back to London. After summing up and hearing some poetry from little old me the event concluded with a final call to sign and spread the Fearless petition so I believe it’s fitting that that’s how I close this post.

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“Together we must make 2015 the year that marks the beginning of the end of gender inequality. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to end violence against women and girls everywhere in the world.” 

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director, UN Women, 2014. (3)

Please, sign the petition, and email your local MP, with ActionAid’s easy to use form, to demand an end to violence against women and girls for good.

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Read a simplified breakdown of the 17 SDGs here.

(1), (2) – http://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/summit/

(3) – Taken from ActionAid’s pocket guide to women’s rights, pg 15.

Awful picture of me talking is my own. All other picture copyrights belong to ActionAid.

Will David Cameron stand with Fearless women? ActionAid, Liverpool and the Fearless campaign.

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I haven’t posted here for a little while, for a number of reasons. But I’m glad that my returning blog post is such an important one. Please excuse the massive plug post but once again I’m calling upon all of my lovely feminists, Scouse and otherwise, to rally together for another fantastic event in our great city.

ActionAid: Acting to end violence against women and girls in Liverpool and around the world

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For the last month or so I’ve teamed up with international development charity ActionAid as part of a global campaign called Fearless.JS62038196

The Fearless campaign seeks to end violence against women and girls worldwide. ActionAid found me through my work this year with RTN Liverpool and I’m excited and proud to be involved with
such a wonderful international charity.

         The Fearless campaign seeks an end to violence against women, the world over. In September, global governments will agree a target on eliminating violence against women at the UN General Assembly. But a target alone isn’t enough. It’s vital that governments around the world put proper resources behind it, and that women’s groups are involved from the start.

          I’ll be joining ActionAid as a panelist at a public debate at Liverpool’s Quakers Meeting House in School Lane, L1 on Thursday evening 3rd September from 6pm where I will speak alongside other women’s rights activists as well as ActionAid staff. This event is FREE and open to all. (Reserve tickets with link below).

          Hopefully joining us, via Skype due to a visa issue, will be Tiwonge Gondwe from Malawi. Tiwonge escaped an abusive marriage in her home country in 2006 after being beaten for years by her former husband and being infected by him with HIV. But she turned this experience into a positive force after joining a local women’s group funded by ActionAid.

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(Pictured: Malawian violence against women activist Tiwonge Gondwe).

Having found the courage to stand up to her husband and be open about her HIV status, Tiwonge is now the group’s director, bringing up her four children alone. She helps women and girls in similar situations to her own, pursuing abusers through the courts as well as holding them to shame within the local community while campaigning to change attitudes.

          Globally, one in three women will experience some form of sexual violence during their lifetime and sexual abuse is still a serious issue in the UK.action aid7

According to crime figures released by the Office of National Statistics the numbers of rapes and other sexual offences in England and Wales are at the highest level since the introduction of the National Crime Recording Standard in 2002/3.

In the UK, sexual offences recorded by the police rose by 37 per cent last year, even though overall crime dropped by around 7 per cent.

        These figures aren’t all bad, as well as improvements in recording, this rise is also thought to reflect a greater willingness of victims to come forward to report such crimes. If this is the case, are we seeing a tidal change in the empowerment of victims of sexual violence? I certainly hope so.

But I don’t just want people to be reporting sexual violence and violence against women, I want to stop violence against women entirely.

That’s why I’m backing ActionAid’s Fearless campaign.


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ActionAid are asking David Cameron to push for a target on ending violence at the UN General assembly in September, to put proper resources behind it, and to make sure women’s organisations are involved from the start.

Please, sign the petition, and email your local MP, with ActionAid’s easy to use form, to demand an end to violence against women and girls for good.

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The Quakers Meeting House, School Lane, Liverpool event will take place on Thursday 3rd September from 6 – 8.15pm. The meeting is FREE and refreshments will be served at the start of the discussion.

To reserve a ticket go to the Standing with Fearless Women webpage or ring Elizabeth Baines at ActionAid on 020 3122 0759.

RTN picture credits to Patrick D’Arcy @ Ynos Productions, Liverpool.

All other picture copyrights belong to Action Aid.