High five, Anna Maria Tarantola

Weary of the persistently sexist and substance-lacking portrayals of women that pervade Italian screens, power signora Anna Maria Tarantola is making headway in the ongoing media sexism battle. The president of  Italy’s answer to the BBC, RAI, made headlines this week as she made the unprecedented decision to ban the broadcast of the nation’s beauty pageant, Miss Italia. Bent on dismantling the rigid media structures which depict women as housewives, mothers and showgirls, Tarantola has (quite rightly) insisted that “a woman must make a name for herself because of her talent, her ability. She must have the opportunity to express her capabilities…Public TV should not, in my opinion, be sending out the message, ‘look…you can become someone if you’re beautiful’.” Preeeach.

Giulia Arena is crowned Miss Italia 2013 in a Beauty Pageant that launched Sophia Loren in 1950

Giulia Arena, Miss Italia 2013.

In a move which certainly heralds a more progressive era of Italy’s public service broadcaster, Tarantola is acting to subvert the deeply entrenched Italian ideology towards women, in defiance of the likes of Gian Marco Centinaio from the Northern League, who sees no inherent problem in “silent women dressed in bikinis.” Also steeped in controversy was the decision of pageant coordinator Patrizia Mirigliani  to omit the contest’s bikini round. As if we needed any more proof of the ongoing pertinence of Mulvey’s male gaze theory, national  newspaper Il Giornale (owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s family) protested: “If we are to cover the bottom, the object of male dreams, with centimetres of cloth what sense does the competition have?” Aaand it’s exactly these kind of old-world dogmas that Tarantola is thankfully seeking to eliminate.

It’s more than evident that sexism is still firmly lodged in hegemonic culture, with the media industry being one of its biggest perpetrators. While there’s indeed a whole lot more that needs to change (the world over), I’ve gotta salute Anna Maria for her ardent equality efforts, which include a thorough rethinking of the RAI’s long unchanged policies on gender. As well as striving to project a non-discrimatory , non-stereotypical, multidimensional image of women, she’s also shaking things up on an editorial level. All of this points to a more forward-looking, equality-centred public service broadcaster that’s sure to chip away at a deep-set misogynistic media mentality. Here’s hoping.

Midweek must-reads, #2.

Here’s a lil round-up of some of the features I’ve been reading this week. 

http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2013/oct/02/david-cameron-i-am-feminist

www.theguardian.com/education/2013/sep/23/how-not-to-be-a-unilad 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/soraya-chemaly/street-harassment-is-runn_b_4004394.html

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/01/rape-prosecutions-falling 

theconversation.com/violence-against-women-starts-with-school-stereotypes-18440 

m.vice.com/en_uk/read/the-uk-pro-life-movement-are-campaigning-non-stop-for-40-days?utm_source=vicetwitter 

www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/porn-has-changed–for-the-worse-even-men-have-noticed-8846457.html 

gaslighting101.wordpress.com/2013/09/25/just-a-joke 

www.dailylife.com.au/news-and-views/dl-opinion/complaints-against-white-ribbon-day-ad-by-male-viewers-are-seriously-saddening-20130927-2uhh6.html 

www.newstatesman.com/society/2013/09/violence-against-women-starts-school-stereotypes 

www.thenation.com/article/176323/abused-surviving-what-amanda-lindhout-faces-after-captivity 

 

 

(Mackle)more music like this, please.

Hot on the heels of the (crazy, controversial) hype surrounding the all-pervasive sound of the summer, Blurred Lines, it’s super refreshing to hear Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’  new offering, Same Love. Utilising their current chart dominating position as an instrument for progressive social change, the  hip-hop duo have released a track which pushes the pertinent issue of marriage equality to the forefront of mainstream culture. Having recently won “Best Video with a Social Message” at the VMAs, the song is generating a whole lot of interest, reaching mass and minority audiences alike.

Here’s a little sample of the lyrics:

And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to
And I can’t change
Even if I tried
Even if I wanted to

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If I was gay, I would think hip-hop hates me
Have you read the YouTube comments lately?
“Man, that’s gay” gets dropped on the daily
We become so numb to what we’re saying
A culture founded from oppression
Yet we don’t have acceptance for ’em
Call each other faggots behind the keys of a message board
A word rooted in hate, yet our genre still ignores it
Gay is synonymous with the lesser
It’s the same hate that’s caused wars from religion
Gender to skin color, the complexion of your pigment
The same fight that led people to walk outs and sit ins
It’s human rights for everybody, there is no difference!
Live on and be yourself

————————–

A world so hateful some would rather die than be who they are
And a certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all
But it’s a damn good place to start
No law is gonna change us
We have to change us
Whatever God you believe in
We come from the same one
Strip away the fear
Underneath it’s all the same love

So, there we have it. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis’ chart topper conveys the notion of universal love, brings to light the inherent hegemonic masculinity of the hip-hop world, tells people to JUST BE THEMSELVES. It’s relevant, powerful and a melodically sound tune to boot.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not stuck in some kind of blissful Utopia; there is still a looong way to go, clearly. After all, Macklemore is a heterosexual white guy, in a position of power and influence. He is part of the majority, preaching about the rights of the minority. It’s not THEIR voices we’re hearing in this song. In fact, homosexual rapper Le1f tweeted extensively on this very issue:

Above: Le1f's response to the song's success.

Above: Le1f’s response to the song’s success.

I can totally empathise with these kinds of reactions. But, like it or not, Macklemore is indisputably confronting weighty issues hitherto practically untouched by mainstream music. Largely, the industry’s aggressively commercial nature is to blame. If pieces carrying this kind of pivotal social message, with their ability to reach mass audiences, are able to buck mainstream trends and unleash an impetus for change in the industry, it can surely only be a good thing. It opens up a discussion, and ultimately a platform for people within more marginal sectors of society to represent THEMSELVES. That’s the hope. So, (Mackle)more of this, please.

 

RAPE = RAPE.

Yesterday, a seriously disturbing figure was released, revealing that a third of women – a THIRD – believe that there are varying “levels” of rape. According to this theory, then, some rape is really bad, some is bad and some is, er, good? Come. On. In the survey of 1,000 ladies, carried out by Rape Crisis, an astonishing quarter of those questioned didn’t consider rape to be, well, rape, if they were drunk. Equally stupefying is the fact that a third believe rape doesn’t constitute rape if the woman doesn’t put up a fight. Honestly, it’s hard to process.

To me, the study highlights mass society’s fundamental and frightening attitudinal flaws regarding this nauseating, horrific crime. The innately judgemental viewpoint of our culture, a staggeringly vast proportion of women included, is having a detrimental effect upon the way in which cases of rape are treated. This is in operation at all levels, from legal support, to prosecution, to reporting the crime in the first place.

To break it down: in the last three years, a predicted 60,000-95,000 cases of rape occurred. Of these, 15,670 were reported. Of these, 2,910 cases went to court, resulting in a mere 1,070 prosecutions (source: BBC).  95,000 > 1,070.

This urgently needs to change. Thankfully, Rape Crisis are trying to get the ball rolling, demanding increased funding towards ISVAs (Independent Sexual Violence Advisors). However, as the study suggests, there is a deeply entrenched ideology in society that is hindering all progress in egalitarian relations. Rape is rape is rape is rape. Women (and indeed men) should not be ashamed nor afraid to report it. Full stop.

SIGN IT! SIGN IT NOW!

Click click click.

Malala Yousafzai, the super inspiring 15 year old from Pakistan who was shot after speaking up for the right for girls to have an education, has launched a petition entitled Stand with Malala: End the Education Emergency. The appeal comes on the heels of the murder of 14 innocent girls on June 15th by Pakistani militants, in their ever-surging war against girls’ education. These were young females that simply wanted to empower themselves through education; a fundamental human right. On July 12th, Malala’s 16th birthday, the activist plans to personally present the petition to United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as delivering a speech to the UN. It takes literally two seconds to sign. Go on.

Malala

 

Good one, John Inverdale.

WHY is casual sexism still a thing? WHY can’t incredibly strong, skilled female athletes be taken seriously for their sporting talent, instead of being scrutinised from a superficial slant?

This, sigh, ever-prevalent issue once again came to the fore on Saturday in light of John Inverdale’s ill-considered remarks on female Wimbledon champion, Marion Bartoli. Speaking on Radio 5 live following the French tennis player’s win against Sabine Lisicki, the broadcaster said: “I just wonder if her dad, because he has obviously been the most influential person in her life, did say to her when she was 12, 13, 14 maybe, ‘listen, you are never going to be, you know, a looker. You are never going to be somebody like a Sharapova, you’re never going to be 5 feet 11, you’re never going to be somebody with long legs, so you have to compensate for that.”

Seriously? Seriously? Quite freakin’ rightly, Bartoli retorted: “It doesn’t matter, honestly. I am not blonde, yes. That is a fact. Have I dreamt about having a model contract? No. I’m sorry. But have I dreamed about winning Wimbledon? Absolutely, yes. And to share this moment with my dad was absolutely amazing and I am so proud of it.” Take that, Inverdale.

This wholly deplorable instance is yet another case of society’s inability to see past a woman’s outer appearance, rather than commend her technical prowess and strength of character. But it wasn’t just John Inverdale. As per, the Twitter trolls were out in full force in the wake of her Wimbledon win. Here are just a few examples (bleuuuugh):

Image

ImageImageImage

So there we have it. A stark and sickening reminder of the shallow, vacuous and sad ideology that continues to command our society. F*%k this sh*t. Congrats Bartoli!

How f*%king great would this actually be.

Love this. Love it love it love it. I genuinely think this would help change young girls’ body image perceptions. I’m not saying that girls with a figure more akin to the one on the left aren’t ‘real women’ yadayadayada, but seriously, it sure would be nice to see Mattel mix it up a bit and send out a more balanced and representational image of young female beauty (whatever that may be). Go on Mattel, I dare ya.  #giveBarbieabooty

Barbie 1Barbie2Barbie3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[Source: http://lacigreen.tumblr.com/post/54437187838/this-is-what-barbie-would-look-like-if-she-were%5D

Reason #5438971369234364 to love Beyoncé.

Admittedly I’m coming at this from a slightly biased angle, BEY-ing a Mrs Knowles-Carter superfan an’ all. But, superfan or not, it is an  irrefutable fact that Beyoncé is a commanding embodiment of female empowerment and self-assurance. She works damn hard, looks damn good and is a damn dedicated mama and wife. Before I turn this into a monotonous monologue on how much I love this lady, for I could go on and on and on (and on) about the reasons behind my unashamed idolisation of her, I want to draw your attention towards one facet of her championing of women: the Suga Mamas.

In case this means nothing to you, the Suga Mamas are Bey’s absolute kick-ass all-female band. Obviously it shouldn’t be extraordinary for a load of fiercely talented musical females to be up on stage doing their thing – OBVIOUSLY – but it very much still is, making Beyoncé’s ten-piece backing band all the more remarkable. Having now seen them live thrice, I can steadfastly affirm that each of these ladies is utterly incredible,  and not one of them conforms to the homogenous ideals to which females are supposedly meant to aspire. But they are bloody brilliant.

Here’s what the lady herself had to say on the sitch: “When I was younger I wish I had more females who played instruments to look up to. I played piano for like a second but then I stopped. I just wanted to do something which would inspire other young females to get involved in music so I put together an all-woman band.”

In giving visibility and a (very sizeable) stage to a super duper talented and sassy set of women, Bey is helping to subvert the notion of men as being the greatest guitarists, the sexiest saxophonists, the most dazzling drummers, the most prodigious pianists in a big way. So there.

Anyway, enough of me: