23 January 2015

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Designing Woman (1957)



Guess, when did Hollywood decided that it was OK for a woman to have a life beyond romantic aspirations! Well, around 1957.

Designing Women (1957, Vincente Minnelli), while following much of the style of other misunderstanding-based romantic comedies (see Bringing Up Baby (1938)), introduces some elements that make it much more advanced than you would expect.

The heroine (the most amazing Lauren Bacall, mind you) is a very successful fashion designer. So, contrary to the female employment patterns in US at that time (work until marriage, then full-time caretaker), she has no intentions of quitting even if stumbling upon a person she'd like to marry.

While vacationing, she enjoys the party and actually does find somebody she likes. She proceeds to take time off from work to enjoy the romance.

She eats! A lot! Claiming that she eats ridiculous amounts when in love, Marilla proceeds to devour stuff. Implication? Women - even the very beautiful and successful - are humans. They require calory intake. Good news fro women everywhere, taking account how complex the dominant culture makes our relationship with food.

When starting to build an everyday life together, turns out that she earns more than her partner. He suffers about it a bit, then gets over and life goes on. The tension does not go back to that. Ha! Even more, they have very different lifestyles and social circles. And that is deemed to be OK. They can live with it.

It's not all feminist dream (and, obviously, a very privileged, high class scenario), as the plot spinner is jealousy of Marilla fuelled by the nondisclosure of information by Mike in the name of protecting Marilla. But the amazing part (for 1957!) is that once overcome the misunderstandings, there's no insinuation that Marilla should quit her job, change her friends or somehow differently adjust to her partner. Nice, eh?

17 January 2015

we don't want to take it any more


Youtube entertainment group BuzzFeed have created various videos on topic of women empowerment which perfectly displays the situations with what women have to deal on daily basis but shouldn't be like that.
We are living in a society where female bodies and choices are criticized constantly. It comes from media and sometimes even very close people. We are tired of all that - listening that our bodies are not OK the way they are, catcalling, online harassment and being called in the worst names when we decide to take a stand for our decisions.
Nowadays we are having many stereotypes on what is feminism. It has become a negative concept despite the actual fact that feminism is a movement towards equality between genders. My guess is that it came out as a negative concept because women are getting angry and becoming more aggressive because of the way we are treated. Unfortunately, almost all women can relate abusive, harassing and/or uncomfortable situations from men and we are the ones who are blamed for that.  The problem is that if we say "no" or express our aversion in a calm, polite way it's almost never taken seriously. And this is what makes us angry and more aggressive. We don't want to be puppets of the patriarchy, we want to be in charge of ourselves and that our choices are respected no matter which way of living we choose. We want to be heard and we want to protect our sisters all over the world. We simply won't take it any more, it's time for development and changes.

06 January 2015

Hysteria FemCon 2015

2015 is already starting with loud events towards women empowerment and gender equality. "Hysteria" is coming soon and will take place in India, Kolkata from 10th to 12th of January. It is creation by Eye Art Collective; group of young artists, enthusiasts and activists who combine their interests and skills to create world a better place.
Before the event we contacted people who stand behind it and they were happy to answer our questions and share their good practices despite their busy schedules. In this article we will get to know what is Eye Art Collective and their creation "Hysteria", what are their main goals and difficulties to create such an event.

Manisha Ganguly (Co-Founder/Editor of Eye Art Collective) :
"We at Eye are an independent art collective that is anarcha-feminist, anti-racist and queer-positive. Our main tool is artivism, using art as a form of activism, to create awareness about socio-politico-cultural issues in the all-pervasive, bold way that only art can, transcending language barriers. Feminism as an ever-changing ideology-movement is one that is viewed with much trepidation, fear and suspicion by the layperson. Feminists are often typified as “ugly” and or “man-haters” (as feminists are mostly female, you follow-great sarcasm at play here,folks-), among other unflattering adjectives; the Feminist vision is often obscured by radicals within the Feminist fold who envision a matriarchy as their final goal and take away from the real problems on the ground – patriarchal oppression, gender violence and deep-rooted sexism that pervades every pore of the skin of society.
Hysteria, aims to address all of these issues and more with the use of varied mediums to understand the prevailing pre-conceived notions, right them and help all participating persons to be more gender-tolerant individuals. With the help of diverse mediums from good old fashioned discussions to air everyone’s views, to screening topical films to workshops on self defence to music, theatre and slam poetry, we wish to use all available means to reach our end of gender sensitivization and creating general awareness.
Obstacles will crop up, and always will, especially when an event of such a singularity is on the cards. From being misunderstood as to our objective (anarchism is not taken lightly by institutions or blindly collectivist individuals who are either a>not enlightened or b>refuse to be enlightened as to what it really entails) to having the usual event hiccups in terms of logistics, finance and manpower, we have persevered and how.
Hysteria is a-go from the 10th to the 12th of January at Max Mueller Bhavan, Kolkata. We hope our initiative, albeit a drop in the ocean, makes a difference in the way we view the world. For the better.
"





More info:
http://www.aneyezine.com/hysteria/
https://www.facebook.com/events/324680227736726
If you are around the area you are very welcome and we highly recommend you to join Hysteria FemCon 2015!

04 January 2015

New year, new ambitions and even bigger love for Being A Girl!

Last year have been very important for women empowerment! Many loud events and happenings took place all over the world which are developing the movement. New years resolutions are important but it's also important to remember what happened and inspired us in the last year! Here are five of the brightest moments that keep us going:



  A 17 years old girl from Pakistan took a stand for her and thousand of other young girl rights and received the Nobel Peace Prize. Malala Yousafzai made huge impact on women empowerment worldwide and proved that feminism changes the world.

He for She by Emma Watson in the UN. This woman is an Idol and/or appreciated by women and men all over the world. Her speech shook the world. It created bigger interest on gender equality and fact that feminism is not only a girl issue.

A group of feminist advocates, including Soraya Chemaly, won a fight in worlds biggest social media! Facebook changed its policies towards breastfeeding and currently the pictures of nursing women are no longer banned from the social media.

Many pop artists, top actors and musicians have declared themselves as feminists, such as Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Lena Dunham, Aziz Ansari and previously mentioned Emma Watson. It helps to lessen the stigma and stereotypes towards feminism and increases the involvement which, we believe, is a step forward towards gender equality.

This year Sweden took it in brand new level by creating new word in their vocabulary. Sweden created "hen" which stands for gender neutral pronoun which can be used when talking about someone whose gender in unknown. Gender-neutral feminism revolution.


New year, new ambitions! We hope that the world is inspired by 2014, so 2015 is going to be a very exciting year towards women empowerment! What do you want to achieve in this year? Here you can find some inspiration from leading feminists.

I Being a Girl team wants to thank every single person for being together with us in 2014! Thank you for reading and sharing! Special thanks to our amazing supporters for guest articles! Every single contribution is appreciated and we love you as much as we ♥ Being a Girl! We can do it!


I Being a Girl Team

15 December 2014

Stories From India - Public Transport #3

In most of the parts in the world public transport is something normal, we even don't pay attention to it, we continue to plan our day, red a book, call someone, spend time on social media or whatsoever. Simple, insignificant part of our day. Not for a woman in India. Especially a foreign girl.

Auto Rickshaw/ Tuk-tuk the adventure starts from the moment you have to get one. You must find one, then to explain where you want to go (and I will not even talk about how drivers try to take advantage of foreigners). When it's done, you bargain for the price and go. In big cities it's not a problem and you can easily get a ride which will be comfortable. In rural areas the story is different. Firstly, Auto won't go until it's full (in rush hours) and by full I mean more than 10 people. Squeezed together with men, women, old and young. You are so close to other people that you can feel their heartbeat. Unfortunately it's a great place for men to take an advantage of women. You are simply so close to each other that you really don't understand if there is any touching happening or I am overreacting because of my stereotypes. Many times I felt incredibly uncomfortable. Either you get out, lose time or stress out and keep going!

Metro system is also not the same as we are used to. At least what I experienced in New Delhi was that last wagons are made just for women. At first it's hard to believe that such a thing rally exists. If men get caught in this area, then they get fined. Women are allowed to go in the rest of the wagons. The whole metro system is developed quite well and with unnecessary high security system. For me metro felt as the safest public transportation almost the same as at home. Nobody stares, different nations and people busy with themselves. Sad but it feels like home and comfort zone. But also it's different India. Modernized and westernised which makes you forget about the rest of the country. It's truly like parallel reality. Despite that there are still rape cases which I wouldn't expect if I didn't read it on news.



Buses used to freak me out the most. Firstly, there in unpredictable system from place to place. Here you have to buy ticket in bus, there you have to buy it at counter to get seat. Constant confusion. But as a foreigner you might always get seat because even if you try to explain that it's OK for you to stand, they just push you into the seat and now you have to be their friend. Secondly, in many buses works gender division. Front part usually is for women and back part for men. Another shocking thing is that in some states the bus tickets are cheaper for women. At first it seems as advantage but when you go deeper why is it so it's only an assault: "women are weak, women need support because they can't be on their own, women need help", it's like a charity from the "generous". Disgusting!
And those ayes that look at you constantly...you go by bus 4 hours and all 4 hours your every single move will be noticed. I did my mistake by staring back with an intention that they will get shameful and blench. I wanted to give an impression that I am not scared or less powerful..well, it does not work like that It only gave wrong vibes and expectations which I definitely didn't want to give. I understood too late that the aye contact in this culture has different meaning.
But when the bus is full, it is full. You might be hanging out from the doors and the only thing that matters is that you are somewhere inside.



Trains are my favourite type of transport! I never took first class because I wanted to feel the real India. During the travel I had unexpected period trouble when I started my fifty-five hour journey from Kerala to New Delhi. There was no possibility to buy any hygienic products. I had to use my own clothes because I simply didn't have a different option. And I am not the only woman who takes this long route. It's almost violent how these needs are denied. Not even a proper or separate toilet or bathroom where to refresh. Frustration.
Women never travel alone these long routes (lower class trains). Either there are group of women or some male companions. It's simply too dangerous to be alone in second class train. Majority passengers are shameless men who stare, take pictures, talk about a woman loudly and even catcall. And for that you don't need to be a foreigner. During the night it is especially scary because you can't really see the faces and how would that help if you have nowhere to run? We are always alarmed, it's the first rule: to be on track of what is happening around you.
So many times it simply pisses you off because you are less safe because of your gender! And then you get violent thoughts even if you wouldn't hurt a fly, you want to throw their phones away and stab them in the ayes just because all this insecurity and stress level makes you crazy.
My train travels were with my friend and/or Indian colleague. At all times I got instructions on what to say, what not to say, on who I should look and on who I shouldn't, with who I should talk and with who I shouldn't. I was thought to be suspicious to everyone. A 100% Indian person told me to never trust an Indian.

To be honest I broke my "woman rules" many times and those were the best experiences of my life. Full of adrenaline because I was aware of possible outcome...but my observation was that it's not a dangerous thing to break the rules. Women are told to be quiet, say yes, follow the men and never protest, that she is weak and born to obey but when a woman is actually independent and stands for herself, then men get confused, almost scared. If I was confident to talk, express my thoughts, say no and stand for myself, then they don't feel comfortable in front of me any more. It feels like the model of how woman should act is only a strategy on how to rule the society not because culture made it so. Women oppression is not natural as some sources might affirm.
In my opinion women empowerment must be in first step towards gender equality. It's a beautiful thing to be a woman, not a stamp of weakness and restrictions. We have to understand it and then stand for it. Men will do whatever it takes to stop this progress because it creates the feeling of losing power. And they might call you in the worst names, try to label you and impress their "standards" of how woman should behave. Don't give up, we know the truth!

01 December 2014

1st of December: World AIDS Day



Annually 1 December is World's AIDS day and it is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show the support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died.



FACTS

In 2010, women and adolescent girls made up about one in four people living with HIV in the United States. Most of these infections (75%) were from sex with men, and the rest were from injection drug use Black woman are the most impacted by HIV Less 50% of woman have ever been tested for HIV in developed countries Women have a much higher risk for getting HIV during vaginal sex without a condom than men do The main risk group is youth 13-24 years, although there is no age limit to get infected Ninety-two percent of the estimated HIV diagnoses among Asian women were attributed to heterosexual contact 50% of HIV infected worldwide are women HIV can't be spread through daily activities - handshakes, hugs, kisses, using the same bathroom etc The number of people getting HIV+ is decreasing

28 November 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Wadjda (2012)

#inspirationalmovies


Wadjda (2012, Haifaa Al-Mansour) is exactly what you expect when watching a well made movie telling you tales about cultures very different from the one you live in: gives you a general picture of a society while stating very clearly that it's by no means completely homogeneous. Very well. And when such a movie come from the first ever Saudi-Arabian female movie director, your feminist obligation is to go and watch!

The premise is very simple and compelling: What happens when a girl that's already struggling with quite restrictive cultural norms of her society gets a strong urge to trespass even more? Or, in other words, what happens when Wadjda, a young Saudi-Arabian girl, wants a bicycle?

So get the movie, gather all the children (and not so children) you care about and watch Wadjda with them. And if you live in a context different of that of Wadjda be prepared to answer many questions. Why is everybody against her having a bicycle? Why are all the women covering themselves in black when leaving their own spaces? Why are girls not to be friends with boys? Why can men have several wives (and abandon their wives if they are unable to give them male children)? Why are girls followed very closely by their teachers to make sure they behave in a certain way? Why girls suspected of a lesbian relationship publicly shamed? And so on... Most importantly, what is likely to happen with Wadjda when she gets older? What kind of life is she likely to lead?

It may also help to ask those questions to yourself too. Just to realize what are the things that you most likely take for granted in life.

21 November 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: Million Dollar Baby (2004)

#inspirationalmovies


This one might be too harsh to be inspirational. But you will have to judge that on your own. Million Dollar Baby (2004, Clint Eastwood) is a sports movie. A boxing movie. About hurt and suffering people.

As sports movie it goes pretty much as expected: we have a heroine who through hard work - mental and physical - gets to prove everybody how they were wrong about her abilities and character. Inspirational so far.

Even more, you get a story about several lives so empty and broken that the fight and success in the ring is the only way she perceives that allows self-realization and freedom. Then again, it's still brutal (and dangerous) fighting in men's world with other women... but who are we to question the dreams of well informed adults?

+ A movie where a woman in a central role is neither expect or made look conventionally pretty at any moment. Also, the sexist structures of the society (and sports!) are laid very bare.

+ The extremely multifaceted and talented Hilary Swank. Breathtaking!

- If you are sensitive to violence and not that into people having fist fights for fun (and money), the whole boxing context might result very crude and overwhelming.

14 November 2014

Friday is the (Inspirational) Movie Night: I'ts Complicated (2009)

#inspirationalmovies


This is one to relax and take it easy, pros and cons will follow... I bring you It's Complicated (2009, Nancy Meyers). It may be actually aimed to your mom (or even grandmom) by the studio bosses, but what do they know about feminist movies? Clue: not much. So here I am, doing their work...

+ Nancy is a female writer and director that has made it big big big in Hollywood. With romantic comedies mostly, that's true, some ore feminist than others but still very big. I have a special weakness for female directors, what can I do?

+ Romantic comedy about people in their 50s or 60s... having romantic affairs and sex, apart from active professional and otherwise social lives. No as daring as Harold and Maude (1971) - hey, this is the big Hollywood Christmas fun movie for women (I'm sure that's how the marketers categorize this movie) after all - but still very valid image of people having fun and enjoying their sexualities.

+ Despite quite obvious love triangle, the ending is - spoiler! - not as you would expect. Neither life or movie ends with a happily ever after i.e. girls gets the boy she wants most. Life is not that easy. And the heroine is pretty OK as she is.

+ Meryl Streep. Who else? I'm deeply and passionately in love with her work, and this is a very nice fun bit.

- Jane, the central heroine, in this movie is a somewhat very softened example of a woman of career. Se has a cake shop that she does not spend her days in. Her hobby after a working day is to cook abundantly and extravagantly to her children, ex-husband, architect, whomever... her life story implies studying the fine art of French cooking abroad but with little consequences apart from croissants (think about Julia Child but much more demure).

- The families depicted live in a fantasy land of material abundance and their worries are pastries and house refurbishment into something even more amazing, etc. No worries about business, salaries, college funds for all the kids, etc. A Christmas fantasy movie indeed.

To conclude: watch this with your mom, aunties, grandmother... gonna be fun!