Posts Tagged ‘Feminist Women’

Talkin’ Periods. Enter Exclamation Marks!

First thing’s first – Happy Mother’s Day! Hope you spent quality time with your mom, called her, wrote a letter to her, or at least thought about her. To all those women who’ve struggled, sacrificed their wants, and exemplified unconditional love: I salute you!

Now let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

Periods. This isn’t the grammar police knocking down your punctuation doors. And it’s definitely not the Avon lady. Someone else is stopping by – your Monthly Friend (who apparently needs a condescending nickname).

It’s time to talk dirty – period dirty. Yes, Daniel Day-Lewis, there will be blood…just not the kind you were expecting. And no bowling pins are involved.

Before I go into how women perceive their periods and the media’s strong influence, let’s see how menstruation has been referred to as colloquially.

Redrum, Redrum!

Cher Horowitz from Clueless gets off the hook when she gives Mr. Halli the excuse that she was ‘surfing the crimson wave’. Crudely, having your period is also known as being ‘on the rag’. And then there are the nosebleed science textbooks that call the first period oh-so-fun names like menarche. (Zzz)

Even the word ‘period’ has negative connotations. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Stop. Right now. Stop. You’re in your period. Stop. (It’s like an annoying telegram!)

Women, when you’re in ‘That Time of the Month’, what do you think of? Cramps? Bloating? For some reason, girls are taught from a very young age to fear and loathe getting their periods. They’re told that it’s messy, painful, and uncomfortable. Special over-the-counter medications like Midol have been formulated to help women get through it.

For many years, females have been ashamed of this normal bodily function. Instead of celebrating this, we’re taught to essentially hate it.

Miracle on Elm Street

In television commercials, we see people in lab coats pouring blue liquid over pads to show us how well they absorb.

There are also women who testify that they’re able to play sports and resume normal activities when they’re in their periods because of pads or tampons.

‘Period’ical

Many years ago pads were bulky…like wearing a pillow between your legs. Now they’re ultra thin and even come in petite, regular, and long  lengths. Tampons have transformed over the years, too, with a sleeker silhouette and with the invention of applicators.

Ever since I got my period and became a member of this ‘secret society’, I’ve noticed the packaging of pads and tampons. Years ago wrappers were usually pink. How stereotypically girly! Now, you might think that wrappers aren’t important. After all, you just throw them in the garbage anyway, right? Wrong. There’s been an evolution (and a revolution) that speaks volumes of a feminist movement.

After seeing pink and discrete wrappers all the time, I found it interesting when one day, Always started putting out pastel wrappers in non-traditionally feminine colours. Interesting! I sensed a change, and it was one I liked.

Rainbow Brite

Fast forward several years, Marty McFly. A few months ago, when I walked down the aisle for feminine-hygiene products in the pharmacy, something caught my eye. It was a rainbow. It was vibrant. It was U by Kotex.

Bright yellow, blue, pink, and green wrappers in fun boxes? They stand apart from their competitors because instead of trying to remain discreet, they’re flashing us!

Traditionally, talking about periods or drawing attention to your period isn’t very ladylike. I love how U by Kotex throws this out the window. (Not talking about something just leads to misunderstandings and even unnecessary fears.)

Check out the awesomely sarcastic 46-second U by Kotex commercial:

And here’s another goodie. At just 31 seconds, it does a great job at poking fun of absurd tampon commercials:

Fellow Canadians, you can get a free U by Kotex sample. (I requested mine.) And if you’re American, go here for the freebie.

What do you think about the U by Kotex commercials? Are you also intrigued with how this company took a blatant stand against commonly unchallenged gender stereotypes? Will you be supporting this by switching brands? Or do you think that it’s just another marketing strategy to make money and that it has no other agendas?

Floss a Backbone, Gargle with Feminist Mouthwash & Don’t Just Brush off Gender Inequality

Of the many university courses I took years ago, my psychology of women class is one of the handful that really stood out. It wasn’t just about memorizing facts and studying to get good marks on exams. After hearing what the professor had to say in lectures and after reading my textbook, I found myself getting worked up over things I once blindly accepted.

Like much of the general public, I had thought that feminism was a bad word. The stereotype of a butch man-hating woman who was hairy, pushy, and obnoxious had sadly been held by me, my friends, parents, and co-workers. We had succumb to the media’s depiction of feminism.

Being a feminist didn’t seem positive at all. Who were these women? What kind of chip did they have on their shoulder that they felt the need to fight all the time? And anyone who called herself a feminist was bound to be ridiculed and challenged (much like labeling yourself a vegetarian, as I discussed in a previous blog post). Why stigmatize yourself?

Then I learned that feminism wasn’t always about putting women ahead for the sake of being women – it was about making a positive difference in the world for women, yes, but also for men. It was about taking women seriously as intellectual individuals and not just as sex symbols. It was about standing up for women to earn equal pay in the workforce. It was about smashing the glass ceiling so society could enjoy some fresh air.

The English author, literary critic, journalist, and travel writer, Cicely Isabel Fairfield (aka Rebecca West) was quoted as saying, “I myself have never been able to find out what feminism is; I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute.”

Yet somehow feminism’s name got tainted in black tar. It became the butt of many sitcom jokes. In fact, feminism got such a bad rap that even women came to associate it with all things negative.

One day I wanted to do an informal experiment to see just how skewed people’s understanding of feminism really was. I asked a bunch of people in my classes (who weren’t in my psychology of women class), “Are you a feminist?” To my surprise (and disappointment), every single person I asked (female or male) had a strong, adverse reaction to the question. They all immediately exclaimed, “No!” A few made looks of disgust as though I had insulted them.

My next question: “Do you believe that women who have the same expertise, education, and experience as men should get paid less for doing the same job?” All of them said no and that they should earn the same amount because that’s what was fair.

When I told them that their answer was feminist, I think it threw them for a loop. They clearly didn’t want to be labeled as a feminist, but they held feminist beliefs. It was obvious now that the problem with feminism wasn’t that people didn’t believe in its tenets, rather its skewed definition.

My theory for why feminism got such a harsh reputation: people were intimidated by the thought of women challenging the status quo, asking for more (which actually was just what they deserved), becoming independent, and working their way up to attain positions of power.

The established patriarchy was under attack! How could they lessen the blow and discount the protests from this growing movement? Ridicule it – make cheap shots at it every chance you get. Turn it into a caricature. And it worked. Even women with university education were refusing to call themselves feminists!

Let’s spread the word – feminism isn’t a bad word. It’s empowering, hopeful, and our future. Get rid of ill-conceived stereotypes that prevent us (women and men) from moving forward.

Anyone can be a feminist. Even men. (Being a feminist doesn’t mean you’re feminine.) You can come from any walk of life. You can be feisty, introverted, pretty, ugly, young, or old. Feminism doesn’t discriminate. People against feminism discriminate.

But you have to remember that feminists are human, too. Some are hypocrites. They’re not perfect. Being a feminist doesn’t mean that you’ll always do or say the right thing when it comes down to the wire. Being a feminist doesn’t make you a good person. Being a feminist makes you want to strive to be a better person. Whether or not you reach your goal is another story.

Are you ready to hop on board?

Ellen DeGeneres: “Instead of Showing Your Boobs, Show People Your Brain.”

This video’s from 2009, but it’s new to me – just saw it last month. It’s a clip of Ellen DeGeneres giving a commencement speech at Tulane University.

She’s smart, witty, and down-to-earth in this video, and her speech is uplifting and funny while still driving home important messages to the new graduates (but really to all of us).

And how true it is when she says, “Instead of showing your boobs, show people your brain.” Women, we need to remember this. When you respect yourself, you set an example for other women to follow suit and respect themselves, too. Let’s hope this catches on!

Thought I’d share it with you because:

  • Laughter makes any day better
  • Ellen’s courage to overcome struggle is inspiring
  • She’s a good example of a modern feminist
  • I’m too lazy right now to write a long essay-style post

Enjoy!

Celebrating Birthdays & Unbirthdays

Stopping by quickly just to say that today marks my 28th birthday.

Lots of women seem to want to cover up their real age like a crime scene. But y’know what? I’m actually proud to be another year older. And I don’t mind telling people my age. It’s nothing more than a number.

Let’s all start taking more pride in who we are, how far we’ve come along, and what we’ve accomplished.

Being older means we’ve experienced more of what life has to offer – the good, the bad, and the ugly stereotypes.

We’re all guilty at some point for putting ourselves down. On your birthday, dare to celebrate yourself, and do something special:

  • Take the day off from work to hang out with friends & family
  • Start writing a novel
  • Challenge your physical limits with rock climbing
  • Exercise your creative side with oil painting
  • Join a drawing or karate class
  • Blast your favourite song & dance naked to it in private
  • Master a new video game
  • Learn how to cook something new
  • Start reading that book you’ve always been meaning to
  • Reconnect with old buddies
  • Take a walk in the park & enjoy the fresh air (even if it’s chilly)
  • Make yourself some tea & pour it out of a teapot with 3 spouts (hehe)

And then the day after your birthday, follow up with the next item on your To-Do List. Soon you’ll see that unbirthdays are just as important as your birthday. Constantly strive to grow as a person, and make it a point whenever you can to do something positive for yourself (and others).

Featured Feminist: Lindsey Van (Ski-Jump Champion & Winter-Olympics Challenger)

Are you getting into the Winter Olympics? I haven’t been following every event (who has?), but I did manage to see quite a bit of speed skating and mogul skiing. (So far, Canada has 5 medals in total – 2 gold, 2 silver, and 1 bronze. Woo – go Canada!)

Now let’s get on with the latest Featured Feminist profile.

Lindsey Van

Birthday: November 27, 1984

Birthplace: Detroit, Michigan (USA)

Claim to Fame: At the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in 2009, she captured gold for her performance in Liberec. She also secured 8 Continental Cup victories.

Why You Should Care: She’s one of the female skiers who’s actively fighting for gender equality within the sport.

Now, I don’t follow many professional skiers, but Lindsey Van is one I recently started paying special attention to. Why? According to Time:

“Lindsey Van holds the record — among both men and women — for the longest jump off of Whistler, B.C.’s normal ski jump, built for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.”

It’s impressive alone to hold a record, but to compete with both genders and still come out on top? Now that’s something to brag about. You’re the cream of the crop. And clearly she’s ambitious – at just 25 years old, she’s been ski jumping for 19 years! Crazy!

If you’ve been keeping up to date with the news, you’ve probably heard that although Lindsey Van is certainly a qualified skier, she wasn’t a ski-jump competitor in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. And neither was any other woman.

Start the feminist fire – things are gonna get hot!

The International Olympic Committee has kept ski jumping the sole Olympic sport that remains men-only despite numerous women ski jumpers petitioning since 1998.

I’m sure that you’re as curious as I was to learn exactly why women aren’t allowed to compete in ski jumping. There must be a logical reason, right? Wrong! There were lots of excuses, but the ‘funniest’ one I read was a 2005 statement made by Gian Franco Kasper (the FIS president and International Olympic Committee member) who thought that it “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Really? Sounds like someone’s been studying medical textbooks from the 1800s. I wonder how he explains how she kicked serious ass and held a record among both women and men.

Watch this MSNBC video to hear from Lindsey herself and other ski jumpers on this issue. You’ll get lots of additional background information on gender discrimination in ski jumping. It’s just 10 minutes and 43 seconds long, but it’s worth watching the whole thing.

Why I Consider Her a Feminist

She’s fighting for what’s right – gender equality. And that’s something to be commended, not condemned. If her skiing achievements don’t floor you, it’s her desire to not only see, but contribute to a change in the world. We can all be armchair feminists and point our fingers at what’s wrong and what needs to be changed, but if we never physically act upon it and voice our opinions, that change may never come about.

Passion is one of the qualities I always look for in my friends and people who I admire. She seems to have it in spades. In sports, there’s a disproportionate number of women compared to men, so it’s especially important to have a frontline woman challenging the status quo. It’s inspiring!

For a dramatic visual that really gets the message across, please check out this 57-second YouTube clip that illustrates how women have to really fight for their right to compete in sports that men already get to compete in:

But for those of you who don’t want to watch it, I’ll summarize its message. Women and men have been allowed to compete in Olympic Winter Games events at different times. Women are only approved to compete at a much-later date:

  • Speed Skating: Men (1924) & Women (1960)
  • Bobsled: Men (1924) & Women (2002)
  • Ski Jumping: Men (1924) & Women (2014?)

The clip ends by saying, “Let’s not just bridge the gap in 2014. Let’s jump over it.” Well said!

But like every strong woman, she has strong opinions. According to Wikipedia, “she alienated many supporters when she characterized the Canadian legal system as ‘weak’ and said the International Olympic Committee was ‘like the Taliban of the Olympics.'”

Whether or not you agree with her on either points shouldn’t make you lose sight of the bigger picture – she’s fighting for gender equality within the sport. That should take precedence. And that’s why I chose her for this Featured Feminist section.

I don’t choose people for this section because they are saints or say politically-correct things to the media. I don’t choose them because they always do the right thing. I choose them because they’re doing some good. Big difference. Everybody can fall, but not everyone can get back up.

Thank you, Lindsey Van, for putting women on the ski-jumping map. And thank you for putting yourself on the line for women’s rights all over the world!

Featured Feminist: Elsie MacGill (Queen of the Hurricanes)

GlockomaFor those times when we want to fold like a bad poker hand, we desperately need inspiration to help us realize that we can pull ourselves out of the quicksand.

Inspiration can hit you between the eyes when you’re not looking (or even when you are). And now it’s gonna be aiming for you. Don’t worry – it won’t hurt. Actually, it’ll feel really good. And it doesn’t reek of rotten tomatoes.

I’d like to introduce you to the latest addition to Glockoma. Featured Feminist is a section I’ll use to post true stories about modern women and famous women in history who exemplify what feminism is all about. This will include writers, inventors, politicians, and  musicians, just to name a few. Feminist messages that help the women’s movement advance are everywhere if you look for them.

Since I believe in a school of feminism that encourages the involvement of and interaction with men, you’ll sometimes read about feminist men in the Featured Feminist section. This is very important to me because in all forms of media, we’re shown male chauvinist pig after male chauvinist pig – it gets more tiresome than a drunk pick-up line.

Let’s get to our very first profile!

GlockomaElsie MacGill

Nickname: Queen of the Hurricanes

Birthday: March 27, 1905

Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia (Canada)

Claim to Fame: First woman in the world to design an airplane

Why You Should Care: She paved the path for many women in a field that is traditionally dominated by men. During WWII, she developed, designed, and tested aircraft as an aeronautical engineer.

And, according to Wikipedia,  she was the first woman to achieve a lot of other impressive things, too:

  • 1927 – First Canadian woman to earn her electrical engineering degree (University of Toronto)
  • 1929 – First woman in North America to earn her masters degree in aeronautical engineering (University of Michigan)
  • 1938
    • First woman elected to corporate membership in the Engineering Institute of Canada
    • First woman to hold the position of Chief Aeronautical Engineer (Canada Car and Foundry)
  • 1946 – First woman to be the Technical Advisor for the International Civil Aviation Organization
  • 1947 – First woman to chair a UN committee (She was the chairperson for the United Nations Stress Analysis Committee.)
  • 1953 – First woman outside the United States to be named Woman Engineer of the Year by the American Society of Women Engineers (She also was made an honourary member.)

Glockoma

GlockomaSome Other Awards & Recognition

  • 1941 – Gzowski Medal from the Engineering Institute of Canada for her paper entitled Factors Affecting the Mass Production of Aeroplanes
  • 1967 – Centennial Medal from the Canadian government
  • 1975 – Amelia Earhart Medal from the Ninety-Nines
  • 1979 – Gold Medal from the Ontario Association of Professional Engineers
  • 1983 – Inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame

GlockomaWhy I Consider Her a Feminist

All of the above already indicates that she’s clearly a fighter who came ready with her boxing gloves. And I bet they weren’t pink.

Well, there’s more to the story that illustrates her strong drive to succeed despite the obstacles.

Case in point: the doctors told her that most likely she’d be wheelchair-bound for the rest of her life after she got polio. But did she take the news sitting down? No. Instead, she taught herself how to walk with the support of metal canes.

And doctoral studies weren’t cheap. Don’t think that she got handouts for her education. During that time, Elsie MacGill financially supported herself by writing articles for magazines about planes and flying.

GlockomaWhy She’s Known as the ‘Queen of the Hurricanes’

When she worked for Canada Car and Foundry, she was chosen to build the Hawker Hurricane fighter aircraft for the Royal Air Force. She also came up with new ideas for how to winterize the aircraft.

GlockomaElsie MacGill Was a Feminist Activist

In the 1960s, she focused on women’s rights issues and was the president of the Canadian Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. In 1971, she received the Order of Canada for her work as a member of the Ontario Status of Women’s Committee.

(The Order of Canada was concieved in 1967 to “[recognize] the achievement of outstanding merit or distinguished service by Canadians, through life-long contributions in every field of endeavour, and who made a major difference to Canada, as well as the efforts made by non-Canadians who have made the world better by their actions.”)

Elsie MacGill seems to have been a proud and vocal feminist, which I think is important. She was quoted saying, “I have received many engineering awards, but I hope I will also be remembered as an advocate for the rights of women and children.”

It frustrates me when some women are afraid to call themselves a feminist because they’re too lazy to deal with any societal backlash to the often-stigmatized label. Kudos to the Queen of the Hurricanes for not shying away. May we all be so brave.

Everything great eventually comes to an end. But this is just the beginning…

The fruition of this feminist blog has been a long time coming. It’s now ready to be plucked from its branch and shared.

First and foremost, my goal is to stimulate healthy discourse and to motivate people to challenge the status quo. Second, I hope to connect the dots between ideologies of female empowerment and practical applications of feminist theory.  In an allergy-free nutshell, I want to build upon my current beliefs and to become inspired by others.

Everybody’s welcome here.

Inspired by the women’s movement? Know of some great books by feminist women and feminist men? You’ve got my undivided attention. Come join the hot debate on gender and inequality.

Together, we will define what is feminism.

As a woman living in what James Brown called ‘a man’s world’, I know how easy it is to let the chauvinist bullshit we digest on a daily basis eat away at our core like a corrosive chemical. That’s what happens when we internalize too much and don’t try hard enough to find solutions.

In this feminist blog, I’ll take a firm stance and voice my concerns about the traditionally-accepted patriarchy. Along the way, I’ll share proactive ways to counter negative influences on women. After all, nobody likes a chronic complainer who sits around all day pointing their cranky cane at everything left, right, and center.

I will tell it like I see it – no Little Miss Manners here. While I’m not one to run my mouth with profanity like diarrhea, on occasion, you will stumble across some swear words. If that offends you, clearly you’re reading the wrong blog.

I also won’t play you for a fool – my opinion isn’t the be-all, end-all. No pooping plastic here, Barbie. I trip over my words like I sometimes do my feet. But hopefully this personal (yet public) exploration into the realms of feminism will help me (and others) define what it means to be a modern woman dealing with modern dilemmas.

Let’s give them something to glock about!

Feminism

But before I pull the trigger of my e-glock and target reasons why the fabric of society could use a good washing, I feel it necessary to clearly outline what feminism is and what it isn’t. Seems like there is such a strong and widespread misunderstanding that it turns people off right from the get-go.

According to Dictionary.com:

Feminism

[femuh-niz-uhm] – noun

1. the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
2. an organized movement for the attainment of such rights for women.
3. feminine character.

Now, let’s be clear. There are many different sects of feminism just like how there are many different denominations for religion. Lumping everything under one umbrella is like squeezing that 14th clown into the Smart car – it stinks!

In my feminist blog, this is not the type of feminism I promote:

  • Man-hating
  • Choosing the woman over the man in every scenario

Finally, are all feminists lesbians with short gelled hair? No, but some are. Anyone (female, male, lesbian, gay, bi-curious, asexual, transgendered, hermaphrodite, Yankee fan, glue sniffer, etc.) can be proud to call themselves a feminist. It’s more a way of thinking than it is about appearances. And as we both know all too well, appearances are definitely deceiving.

With all of the above said, we can continue.

Welcome, dear reader! I hope you follow me as I put my personal stamp and sarcasm on social norms, pop culture, and everything else we take for granted. This is my feminist lens, and I hope it helps you see clearly.

Okay, I’m ready to glock!

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