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The Importance of Emma Watson’s 10x10x10 Campaign

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The importance of the launch of Emma Watson’s HeForShe campaign and then subsequently the IMPACT 10x10x10 Initiative at the World Economic Forum at Davos should not be underestimated. For so long Feminism has received a bad rep. Not only is it made out to be for hairy man hating lesbians that shout and scream and like to throw peanuts at male toddlers, but it has been ostracised to the fringes of society rather than taking center stage. Often equal pay, sexual harassment, rape, domestic abuse, body image and countless other issues are deemed as not important enough, that there are other more pressing issues to be dealt with.

However, why should the presence of other issues detract from these issues? As humans should we not try and make every aspect of our lives and others lives better? Are we not capable of thinking of more than one thing at once? Surely if something is affecting half of our society then that is something worth talking about; an issue for all of us?

Here is where the HeForShe campaign steps in. It encouraged feminist issues to be men’s issues also. Yes this is not a new rhetoric, but Emma Watson acting as its figurehead and UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, with her popularity and vitality, mean that this message can really and truly break through.

Feminism has for the most part been a struggle for equality for women, by women. But HeForShe encourages men to join in and stand up against the inequalities and discrimination faced by women. This is vital. Feminism is not for the superiority of women, it is for EQUALITY. And how can we achieve equality without the equal participation of all sexes? The answer is we cannot. Thus by encouraging men to care, to join in and speak out we can exact real and lasting change for ALL of humanity.

And as is often the case, we sign the petition, we decide in our heads we support a campaign, but then what? What more can we do to make a change? At Davos, Emma Watson highlighted the fact that men and women can be feminists and fight for equality every single damn day, through doing the smallest of actions. Even simply by talking about it to your colleagues, friends and family. That is the pebble that may ripple out and out until waves of change affect the entire ocean.

Feminism and equality start at home. It’s a global issue, unlike a lot of others, where we as individuals can actually make a real difference. That way we can stand with governments, corporations and even whole countries to work together to build a better future for everyone. Let’s all be part of the change.

‘Fake’ Geek Girls or Blatant Hypocrisy?

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I’ve recently read a lot of rather angry articles about what is deemed to be ‘fake geek girls’. To summarise, these voices shouting into the oblivion that is the Internet, are criticising what they deem to be girls who have so called ‘geeky’ interests in so far as only to get attention from guys and have no real interest in the actual lore and depth of the culture. Now I have never described myself as a geek personally, but I have had this term leveled at me quite a lot so here’s my two cents.

I’m all for groups of people defining themselves in order to bring people closer together and with the wonder of the Internet it means communities are created where you can share and discuss and feel part of something, especially if those around you don’t really follow your passions with the same zeal as you do. However, who is anyone to label what a ‘real geek’ is or a ‘fake’ one is, when the term itself is so broad and all encompassing. Geeks used to be the ones that were shunned from society so why would you fall into the trap of doing the same to others, when you finally have become the ones with the ‘cool factor’. The hypocrisy and sexism of it all is limitless.

You complain about being bullied and misunderstood yet then bully and misunderstand others, especially girls when they don’t have exactly the same interests as you or do not meet the high knowledge criteria that you expect from them. The enforced intellectual competition on your peers is ludicrous. You are essentially turning your bitterness at being marginalised into defensive bitterness and marginalisation. And these geeky men can avoid the label of being called sexist, as they can invoke a kind of meritocracy, in that ‘I’m not judging them for being female but rather for not knowing as much as us geeky men’. It’s falling into the trap of needing an ‘other’ to feel superior to and desiring, at any cost, to continue being the minority within society.

In terms of being a female ‘geek’, I have never found that to get me any extra attention from guys. I have faced 3 different scenarios. The first group of guys will judge and exclude me for not having the same interests and then call me out for being attention seeking, whilst patting me on the head like an ill informed child. This group I would not look at twice and would suggest that if you want to get laid and impress a girl, try being NICE for a change, instead of attacking her for being ‘easy’ or a ‘cock tease’ fake geek. It’s an easy way for these men to dismiss their insecurities about the opposite sex and societal pressures of having to find an attractive female without actually trying, due to the fact that ‘attractive females do not understand them’.

The second group of guys have gotten me on a date, they are charming and attractive, yet when I start banging on about anime or something along those lines, they look at me like I might as well be speaking Chinese and am slightly insane (so in this case being a geek has not helped in the slightest either). And the third group are nice guys, who do have similar interests but are accepting of other people’s obsessions and are willing to learn and try new ones, and they are the ones who you become friends with and even date. Unfortunately, to me, that group seems to be the smallest.

Furthermore, I lament the fact that women feel the need to bash other women for their interests and call them out as fake. I’m not sure if it’s jealousy or wanting to be the minority and somehow special, or simply being pretentious and ‘hipstery’ about it all, but it seems to me that there is enough female bashing in day to day life, from slut shaming to how women should behave in the work environment, etc. Why not allow a culture where people have been humiliated and mocked for so long, to be a place where anyone with any interests can be accepted and educated and loved?

Within geek culture girls have far more to prove. Especially attractive ones. Goal posts are moved and expectations are different. Instead of assuming their interests are a product of attention seeking, give them the benefit of the doubt. Celebrate female geeks. And in doing so maybe we can make ‘geek’ culture more female friendly and less male centric and maybe, just maybe we can create more geek culture targeted towards women or instead simply include strong, realistic female characters within already established fandoms. Geek culture should bring any and all people together no matter what you’re into. Let us be forward-thinking, celebrate our similarities AND differences and establish ‘geek’ culture as here to stay.

Dissertation Proposal Extract: Gender and the Novel in 19th Century Britain.

Charlotte Brontë, idealiserat porträtt, 1873, efter skiss av George Richmond, 1850

Brief extract of my proposed dissertation topic. Very much a work in progress:

The topic I wish to focus on for my dissertation is the changing attitudes and portrayal of women and men by female authors in Britain during the 19th Century. The way I wish to go about my dissertation is by reading a number of novels by famous British female authors such as: Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Gaskell, Mary Shelley, Emily Bronte, Mary Elizabeth Brandon, Anne Bronte and George Eliot. Using these novels I will attempt to look at the changing gender attitudes of men towards women and women towards women. This will explore women’s ideas of the self and sensibility, how they saw themselves within society, how they saw themselves in terms of having relationships with men and their personal ideas on their own sexuality and self-worth. I will also set these novels within the context of the author’s own views and life. From this I will set these portrayals within the wider context of Victorian society and try and reveal how much this tells us about women’s place politically and historically and try and connect it to the periods immediately before and after.

The reason I wish to focus only on female authors is because it was a time when women went from using male pseudonym’s to using their own names, actually earned money from literature and became an extremely popular source of entertainment within British society. Furthermore, many of these novels were not only very controversial at a time when gender attitudes had reverted back to being extremely conservative, but they also reveal a lot about women’s changing perspectives towards sex and power within the home. This was a weighty form of feminism as it masqueraded as entertainment, but had a powerful effect on readers and allowed women to write about strong and often flawed females, a topic largely ignored at the time. Culturally novels had never been so popular, so it is a very revealing lens through which to explore historical attitudes towards gender and women. Furthermore, as women had little influence within the political and social spheres, representing themselves though the cultural medium was the only way women really had of getting their changing views across to a wider audience. However, even this was set within the male dominated world of publishing, which in itself constricted female authors.

I wish to go about this ideally by splitting each author into a separate chapter and within each chapter discussing the historical context and the reception and debate they generated. This will also tie in with any feminist activity occurring at the time. I will not only study those novels, but I will also read widely on Victorian society as a whole and look into feminist movements that were taking place within Britain.