Why is feminism still important?

The post below puts it a lot more eloquently than I could. It is well worth a read, and interesting food for thought. I have always felt that, for me, feminism is all about equality and I have tried to stress that it does not have to be aggressive or “man-bashing”. Now, I’m going to think again. This post is a stark reminder that as opposed to simply toting the words  ‘equality’ and ‘equals’ around, and despite the (supposedly) negative connotations of the label ‘feminist’ in many’s eyes, the force of feminism is needed. (Yes, still.)

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on this, as it seems to be hotly debated amongst feminists themselves. How do we define ourselves? What is the role of feminism today, and how should it be implemented within society? Why is feminism still important? Is it still a relevant label? The blog post below has some strong answers to these questions.

The Belle Jar

Last night I was flipping through Margaret Atwood’s Wilderness Tips (which, by the way, is probably her best book of short stories). In the middle of Uncles, I came across a brief exchange between two characters, one of whom is trying to convince the other to write a guest piece on feminism for his newspaper:

“This would be a different angle.” There was a pause; she imagined him polishing his glasses. “It would be – now that the women’s movement has accomplished its goals, isn’t it time to talk about men, and the ways they’ve been hurt by it?”

“Percy,” she said carefully, “where do you get the idea that the women’s movement has accomplished its goals?”

I feel like this is a conversation that I’ve been having for most of my adult life. For someone who came of age in the 90s and early 2000s, it can be…

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Food waste: who’s to blame?

Today I saw an article on the BBC on the report by the House of Lords European Union Committee, blaming ‘Bogof’ deals on certain short-life supermarket goods for food waste by consumers. The report urges for more surplus food to be given to charities and food banks, instead of being wasted by consumers. This seems to me to be skimming over the larger issue. Yes, maybe consumers can be wasteful, but who benefits from cutting supermarket deals? The wealthiest of society might not be affected, but this is not so true for those less well off. And, what about the tonnes of unsold food that many shops throw away every year, from their own overbuying? Of course, there is some hope, as many supermarkets are becoming more innovative in how they use expired food, redistributing waste by re-using and recycling it, or even turning it into energy.

perfect strawberry

Another issue is, as consumers, we are highly selective in the foods we choose to buy; that strawberry is a funny shape, this pepper is the wrong colour. With both shops and consumers adhering to these ridiculous and unnatural standards, an awful lot of produce is wasted before it even reaches the shelves, all because it’s not quite “perfect”. (Although it is now legal to sell misshapen fruit and vegetables.) As well as addressing the large amounts of food wasted during the production and retail stages, the mentality of consumers and their approach to food should be considered.

The report by the House of Lords European Union Committee states that 15 million tonnes of food is wasted in the UK every year, saying:

‘It is clear that retailers must assume a far greater responsibility for the prevention of food waste in the home’.

Whilst it is true that spontaneous impulse buying can be wasteful, and deals can sometimes encourage this approach to shopping, surely the answer to these concerns is not simply withholding certain deals, but the better education of consumers. We need to make sure that consumers fully understand the impact of food waste, and how to plan their shopping around their meals in a way that is both cost-effective and efficient. (Even if this might sound obvious!) Meanwhile, retailers need to step up and take responsibility for wasteful production methods.

I’m just not convinced that a rethink of ‘buy one get one free’ deals will solve anything; what we need instead is a mass-shakeup of our entire approach to food, and how we use it from the bottom-up. It’s like they say, ‘waste not want not’.

pepper

Why an Australian Snickers ad is a kick up the vagina.

When I first saw the recent Australian Snickers advertisement online, I had no idea of what I was about to watch, presuming it to be a generic homemade video and not part of a corporate advertising campaign. The viral video was simply listed on an entertainment site as, ‘Aussie Builders Surprise Women With Loud Empowering Statements’, and was tagged under, ‘funny’ and ‘pop culture’. From this, I expected the video to be bit of light-hearted amusement at least, a display of female empowerment at best. The aim of the video is obviously to entertain through the reversal of the stereotypical assumption that construction workers are misogynistic, and it opens with the question, ‘What happens when builders aren’t themselves?’. This already implies that any act of female empowerment to follow will not be a true representation of the average construction worker, an ambivalent start to a supposedly ‘amusing’ clip. The advertisement looks to parody the sexist catcalling of builders at passing females, and does a fabulous job of reversing these roles, by rather ingeniously (or not) representing a group of men shouting down at women who are attempting to pass by.  As one clichéd gender-equality statement after another is yelled down by the male workers at unsuspecting, young and photogenic females, I start to feel rather squeamish. By the time the Snickers slogan: ‘You’re not you when you’re hungry’ flashes onscreen, poignantly overlapping the construction workers’ chant of “What do we want? Equality! What don’t we want? Misogyny!’ I’ll admit I felt sick. Apparently, construction workers and, by extension, the entire working male population, will only support equality of the sexes when they are experiencing hunger. Not to worry though, a quick Snickers will “give them some nuts”, and revert them to the male chauvinism that is, according to this, their natural state. Cheers, for that metaphorical kick up the vagina.