As Free as a Bird

Spreading my voice on the injustices of rape culture, misogyny, and human trafficking in an effort to educate others and empower like-minded women.

Archive for the tag “women”

Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic Violence Defined

It is much more broad and far-reaching than many people realize.

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Death is Fashionable?

Trigger warning: Violent and disturbing images

Sometimes I just want to throw my hands up in the air.

I have seen an article before about violence against women in fashion magazines and advertisements, but I looked at it as something that we are moving away from at this point. Obviously I was wrong. Here is a new Marc Jacobs ad featuring a girl who appears to be dead:

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I fail to understand why violence against women is viewed as art. I’m not sure what message they are even trying to send here. They are normalizing and glorifying violence against women, and they are using a young woman who has admitted that she is unstable to carry out that message.

I could argue that these images are actually symbolic of society and the fashion industry, and the real damage that they can cause towards women and young girls. Women are often placed on a figurative scale. As a woman, you cannot be too skinny, because then you don’t have “enough curves”, and you cannot be overweight because that makes you “disgusting”. Why do we care so much about what other people look like or what they choose to do with their bodies? It would be different if comments revolving around weight were actually born out of true concern for the person’s health, but they rarely, if ever, are. I think many people mask their ignorant comments with “concern”.

These photos are why I am honestly feeling deterred from having children. Why would I want them to grow up in world like this? Violence against women is seen as art.

Again, these are really disturbing.

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I don’t see anything artistic about this. This has very little to do with fashion, and a lot to do with violent/gore media. They look like still shots from a horror film. I guess I will never understand the fashion industry, especially when they try to make strangulation look sexy.

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I realize that there are fetishes out there, but I honestly do not think it is healthy to put on display for young girls to see. I do think we should be more open about sexual education, but I doubt Rihanna songs or fashion ads are created for education. It honestly just looks like another image of a man dominating a woman- “putting her in the place”. People seem to think all these images and jokes are harmless, but I don’t see the humor or beauty in violence. The hyper-sexualization and glorification of violence against women is a problem displayed in advertisements and the media on a constant basis. Sometimes it feels as if there is no escape from their onslaught of images. Images like these images contribute to rape culture in America. We are so desensitized to violence against women; it is almost seen as normal, and sometimes goes as far as claiming to be sexy or artistic when women are abused.

That is a serious problem. Yet, how can we change it? It is so engrained in our culture. Are we too far gone?

 

Note:

If you would like to see more images or read more on the topic, here are some sources that I used:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/copyranter/violence-against-women-in-fashion-continues-unabated

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/womens-blog/2014/jan/09/female-corpses-fashion-trend-marc-jacobs-miley-cyrus

Real Women

Real Women

This is a great reminder, even for me. We are all “real women”. Not one body type, ethnicity, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or religion defines that.

Beauty Redefined

How To Look Beautiful

Be yourself.

A Note to Parents

A Note to Parents

The Sexy Lie

What do you think about the way that the media portrays women in advertisements?

A Challenge to Men

The Cultural Concept of Virginity

The Cultural Concept of Virginity

I’d like to hear from anyone:

What do you think about virginity? Do you think that the idea of virginity can lead to slut-shaming and victim-blaming? How so? Does it devalue women? Some people believe that the concept of virginity is an archaic belief system that encourages property ownership. Is that what it is still suggesting today?

I am not saying that I feel one way or the other, I would just like to know how you feel.

Combating Misogyny

Educating men and boys on the importance of women’s rights is vital to the feminist cause. So many people perceive rape and violence against women to be a woman’s issue, but those people forget who the main perpetrators are: males. If we do not reach out to the male population and gather support things may never change. There needs to be education on all of the topics and a willingness to learn amongst both genders. Instead of working against each other and promoting hate between genders, a more effective route to take would be to work together to create equality for all. We may not reach every man, but we can appeal to those who have women in their lives and let these men know that misogyny and violence against women does personally touch them. If you have a woman in your life that you care about, it touches you. Women live in a constant hyper-vigilant state in order to avoid getting assaulted. Even if a woman has never been assaulted, we all take daily routines to avoid it, whether it is a conscious effort or not. We need to reach men, because they do care, they just need to be encouraged that it is acceptable and courageous to care.

 

Schools and Shaming

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You can read more about slut shaming by clicking on the image.

The question today is, are schools promoting weight shaming and slut shaming?

A few weeks ago I asked my boyfriend’s cousin to stay with me over night so that we could spend some bonding time together. She is a junior in high school and has pretty low self-esteem from what I understand. Since I was bullied and mistreated in high school I have kind of made it my goal to help her and mentor her whenever I can. When she was staying with me she was talking to me at breakfast about school. With teary eyes she began to divulge an all too familiar story about her school administration. She is constantly targeted for her clothing, and I suspect it is because she is Hispanic and does not fit the Barbie mold. She has been told on several occasions that her pants are too tight or that she can’t wear shorts because her legs are too big. A school official has also said to her that certain clothing does not work with certain body types. To me that sounds like they are insinuating to her that she is too fat to wear shorts.  Frankly, that is her decision and own opinion to make, it isn’t the schools’ business to play fashion police. This is a terrible message to be sending a young girl in high school, or any girl for that matter. High school is a time when most girls are insecure, vulnerable, and have low self-esteem. The school is telling young girls that aren’t obese that they are fat, and even if they were actually obese it is still none of their business outside serving healthier foods for everyone at school. Rather than schools standing by their students and encouraging them, they are shaming them for being different. She is constantly targeted for her clothing while the administration looks the other way when it comes to a certain group of girls who wear shorts that are even shorter than what she wears.

Also, wearing leggings without shorts over them is banned from her school, as are yoga pants, I believe. While in some regard I understand why, I don’t think that limiting students’ clothing betters their academic career or causes them to “make better life choices” (and I hardly doubt that is the true reasoning for clothing restrictions). Frankly, it is slut shaming.

When did teaching kids appropriateness cross the line into shaming? This is a tough subject, because in a way I don’t think young girls should be baring themselves inappropriately at school.. but mainly because I know there are creeps out there that have to turn the way you dress into something sexual and run with it. Yes, you should dress respectfully in certain situations, but many of these recent cases of schools and dress codes have truly crossed the line and flew into another atmosphere.

Here are some great examples from an awesome article that you should also read:

1. A middle school in California banned tight pants. At the beginning of last month, a middle school in Northern California began telling girls to avoid wearing pants that are “too tight” because it “distracts the boys.” At a mandatory assembly for just the female students, the middle school girls were told that they’re no longer allowed to wear leggings or yoga pants. “We didn’t think it was fair how we have all these restrictions on our clothing while boys didn’t have to sit through [the assembly] at all,” one student told local press. Some parents also complained, leading the school’s assistant principal to record a voicemailexplaining the new policy. “The guiding principle in all dress codes is that the manner in which students dress does not become a distraction in the learning environment,” the message said.

2. A high school principal in Minnesota emailed parents to ask them to cover up their daughters. A principal in Minnetonka, MN recently wrote an email telling parents to stop letting their daughters wear leggings or yoga pants to school. He says the tight-fitting pants are fine with longer shirts but, when worn with a shorter top, a girl’s “backside” can be “too closely defined.” The big risk of having a defined backside, he thinks, is that it can “be highly distracting for other students.”

3. Two girls in Ohio were turned away from their prom for being “improperly dressed.” Laneisha Williams and Nyasia Mitchell were barred from prom this spring for wearing dresses that administrators considered “too revealing.” The girls say that they didn’t believe they were violating a dress code that said dresses couldn’t be too short or show too much cleavage. But one administrator told local news that the high school girls were only allowed to wear dresses that had “no curvature of their breasts showing.”

4. A kindergarten student in Georgia was forced to change her “short” skirt because it was a “distraction to other students.” It’s hard to imagine that a kindergartener’s outfit could be “a distraction to other students,” but a mother in Georgia told locals news there that her daughter had been outfitted in someone else’s pants — without parental permission — after the principal deemed the skirt the young girl was wearing too short.” The girl had apparently wore the skirt, and accompanying leggings, just one week before without incident.

5. Forty high school girls were sent home from a winter dance in California after “degrading” clothing inspections “bordering on sexual harassment.” A school board member’s daughter was among the 40 girls turned away from Capistrano Valley High’s February dance for wearing dresses that either exposed their midriffs or were cut too low. Before the dance, girls were apparently required to flap their arms up and down and turn around for male administrators’ inspection. The school issues image guidelines for appropriate dress on its website — though the images were nearly all of women, and the only male image depicted proper attire. One girl alleges that the principal told her, “Not all dresses look good on certain body shapes.” A grandmother of one of the girls who was turned away from the dance also said that a teacher remarked about her granddaughter, “What mother would allow her daughter to wear a dress like that?” Apparently the school did receive some praise, though, from the parents of two male students.

So, does slut shaming breed rape culture? Hell yes it does. Slut shaming tells girls that they are the cause of rape, they are seducing the men into action because of the way that they dress or act. FALSE. Rapists rape because they are rapists. Why should we condone shaming girls and placing blame where it doesn’t belong. Our society hides behind this guise of being politically correct, proper, and “appropriate”. Well, if accepting rape is proper and appropriate, I say f*^% propriety. Schools need to be in the business of education, not discrimination.

 

No Slut Shaming

My policy, and it should be yours, too.

My policy, and it should be yours, too

Just because someone is sexually promiscuous, even if they truly are by society’s standards or not, does not mean they are deserving of rape or open property for someone to rape. This also does not automatically make them your open target for harassment and torment. Stop the hate.

Victim Blaming and Victim Shaming

Victim Blaming: The act of insinuating that the victim of a crime is at fault for the crime. This is seen extremely often in rape cases. The victim is blamed for their own rape. In other words, society may accuse them of wearing “suggestive clothes”, drinking “excessively or irresponsibly”, giving “suggestive eye contact”, or acting “suggestively”, claiming that the victim caused the rape to happen because of “poor decisions” or “irresponsible/slutty behavior”.

Victim Shaming: When victim blaming goes a step further. Outside of blaming a victim for the crime committed against them, people may begin to bully the victim for the crime. They may call the victim derogatory names, threaten them for coming forward, gang up on them on the internet, slander them, attack them verbally and physically, and taunt them endlessly.

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Both victim blaming and victim shaming seem to be a current trend in our society. I’m not sure if these situations are just now coming to light in the masses, or if it was always going on. Something tells me it’s been happening for a very long time.

When I was sitting in the police cruiser on the night of my attack the police were grilling me to tell them about what happened and draw up a formal charge. I told them that I did not want to press any charges, and that I just wanted to go home. They acted like they had no idea why I would not want to press charges, but I quickly enlightened them (keep in mind this was much before the Jane Doe, Rehtaeh Parsons, Amanda Todd, and other related cases came into the light). I told them that I knew what people would say of me, that they would call me a slut, say I was asking for it, and I would just be the slut in the green dress. They tried to assure me that no one would think that about me, and though I knew that what they were saying was not true, I reluctantly gave my statement and spent the longest 2 hours of my life waiting in the police cruiser.

The police pretty much shamed me for not wanting to come forward, but I think people can see why at this point in time. Jane Doe and Rehtaeh Parsons endured endless bullying from their peers and society. The process of reporting is traumatic enough without rape culture being at a height and extremely public. The police tried to convince me by saying, “Don’t you want to stop him from doing this to anyone else?” If you say anything other than yes you look like a monster, and if you say yes you are damned for life for reporting. No wonder barely any women want to report. People always like to look down on women for not reporting, but I fully understand why they do not want to.

I want to change this society, but I can’t do it alone. We all have to work together to beat it.

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Defining Ourselves

Don’t let the media and society tell you who you are- YOU show them who you are.

Killing Us Softly

I watched this series a few times throughout college. Kilbourne has 4 videos from throughout the years that discuss women, self-image, self-esteem, and violence against women in relation to how women are portrayed in the media. This is her most recent video. I believe spreading videos like this is vital to women’s physical and mental health. As she states in the video, degradation and dehumanization of women is just the beginning of violence against women.

 

How to Dress for Your Size

How to Dress for Your Size

Dress however the hell you want.

They Were Wrong

Being a Sociology Major in college most of my courses revolved around society and its impact on our lives. In particular, my Pop Culture class stood out in my mind the most about the truly damaging effects of society. The media has always told us what is “cool” or pushed the idea of what is attractive. If you did not abide by the rules of cool or you stood out in any way, you were shunned, shamed, and bullied. This is not only true for teenagers, but it is just true for children and adults, as well. I am a nanny, and the little girl that I watch is bullied by one of her friends at school. This girl will send notes to all of their friends saying how the girl I watch is ugly, and the way that she dresses is ugly. The girl I watch is only nine years old. It seems ridiculous that even at such a young age she is being judged by the way that she looks. What is more appalling is that it starts even younger than many people realize. Think about the store that you shop at the most for your basic needs (i.e. Target, Wal-Mart, HEB Plus, etc). What does the boy’s isle for toys and clothes look like? It sports monster trucks, cars, tough looking characters, super heroes, blue, green, red, black. What does the girl’s isle look like? It shows you fashion, pink, purple, Barbie, princesses, dolls, and more offensively many of the toys revolve around being a mom or doing household chores. So basically all women are good for is working in the home and caring for the family, why would she want a career? If Barbie is even allowed to have a career it is fashion related, nurse, or veterinarian, since all women care about is clothes and animals. Gender roles are the first guidelines of discrimination and judgement in our lives.

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As we begin to age the onslaught of images and ideas bombard us almost non-stop. You must be stick thin, but you can’t be too thin because then you don’t have big breasts or a big butt. You must dress a certain way to attract men, but if you dress that way you are a slut. You must not be a woman of color, make yourself as light-skinned as possible, but if you are white, you must tan your skin. You must not have any dimples, moles, pimples, freckles, or imperfections.

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Instructions on how to fix your “wobbly bits” because god forbid your body moves as you walk. How shoes can make you look thinner, because that is what shoes are made for rather than to be comfortable and show your personality. The only good thing about this cover is that it has a teeny tiny print of an article title on challenging and researching your salary.

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The sex is all about him, and what he wants. What pleasures HIM, not you, not mutual pleasure. Focus on him. Oh, and how to be girlie and make guys melt. Sorry, tom boys. Apparently men aren’t allowed to be attracted to a bad ass chick that kicks butt. Ironically, under “His Pleasure Zone” is an article on date rape. That isn’t sending mixed messages or anything. I thought women are supposed to bend to the whim of every man and pleasure them. This magazine even objectified men with its bare-chested man-show.

Cosmopolitan is not all bad. It does try to appeal to all crowds with stories on strong females and how-to’s for women to protect themselves, but the problem is rather than empowering articles for women being the main focus of the magazine, they are hidden within and often times featured at the end of the magazine.

Below is an example of what the cover should portray. Strong females of any age kicking ass and taking names. How-to’s describing how to love yourself rather than trying to change yourself to fit a mold.

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Hell, I think freckles are gorgeous.

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I say, rock it full-figured beauties.

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Love yourselves super-awesome women of color.

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Own your beauty mixed women.

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Be proud of yourselves mature women.

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I say F*CK you, media. We are all hot, sexy, perfect, and beautiful. Media, you are the one that is wrong, abnormal, or needs to be altered.

Because this is not who we are.

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You cannot define us. We are strong. We are women. They. Were. Wrong.

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