Category Archives: Society

Chime for Change

I have just watched the highlight show of the Chime for Change concert that happened at Twickenham on Saturday. When trying to find the full concert online I came across an article documenting the Twitter outrage that many of the performers outfits provoked. Many viewers thought the performers outfits didn’t fit with the female empowerment message of the concert.

beyone chime for change

Beyonce

jessie j chime for change

Jessie J

rita ora chime for change

Rita Ora

Yes Jessie J, Rita Ora, even Queen Bey herself (and many of the other female performers) were wearing tight/ short/ sexy outfits. And? Surely the whole point of female empowerment is to focus on what women can DO not how they dress. The most common reply to this line of argument is “but by dressing like that they give the impression that to be successful you have to dress sexy and prance about in heels.” Or you could be both? I have never understood why people are scared to suggest that women can be successful AND sexy. The two concepts aren’t mutually exclusive. At least they aren’t for men. No one has ever accused George Clooney, or Benedict Cumberbatch, or even Justin Bieber (depending on your preferences) of being too sexy to be successful! So why are we so scared to admit that women can be both?

For me, feminism is about wanting equality for both sexes, plain and simple. This essentially means allowing women to do and be whatever they want, a privilege that men have always had. If Beyonce wants to remind everyone that she is not only an incredible singer and activist, but also sexy as hell, then all the more power to her! The very fact that people have been talking about what these women are wearing, rather than their talent, or the contribution they are making to a truly important cause, shows just how far women still have to go before we can truly be equal to men. Of course I’m not saying that women should be treated like sex objects, but I really don’t think that extremely successful pop-stars dressing in tight clothes at a benefit concert should be presented as all that is wrong with the place of women in today’s world. Being sexy isn’t a crime, and quite frankly these sorts of comments are part of the victim-blaming culture we are unfortunately still living in. Just because a women is dressed in a way that makes her feel good about herself doesn’t mean she should automatically be viewed as a sex object. That’s not the point of outfits like this. I’m pretty sure when I dress for a night out I’m not thinking “ooo what will make someone want to make crude comments/ grab my ass/ have sex with me?” I (and most probably ALL women) am thinking “what will make ME feel good about MYSELF?” And I reckon that is what Beyonce and all the other performers were thinking at the Chime for Change concert. The variety of outfits shows this: Mary J Blige wore a sequinned catsuit ; Florence Welch wore a flowing blue dress and cape; Haim’s Danielle wore grey jeans and a leather jacket. Each performer wore what made them feel their best, so that they could give the best show to raise money for a hugely important cause that they all support. And that is all their clothes represented.

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Florence Welch

haim cfc

Danielle Haim

Mary-J.-Blige-performs-at-the-Sound-of-Change-Chime-For-Change-charity-concert

Mary J Blige

What do you think? I think this is a really important debate to have, and I’d love for you to weigh in!

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A Reminder

Yesterday a man was brutally killed by two others in broad daylight in Woolwich, London. This is a horrible tragedy in itself, but it is also being called an act of terrorism by many because the killers were filmed shouting islamic chants, supposedly in the language of jihad. While these men may have been acting in the name of Islam, worrying numbers of people have been taking this as a chance to spread their racist, Islamophobic message. The scariest I have seen so far are the tweets from the English Defence League calling the people of London to take to the streets to hunt ‘them’ down. This was the work of two deranged men acting in a way that is not deemed acceptable by any establishment or religion, and I worry for my country if that is how some people see this. There are countless articles on the horrible messages left by people after this attack, so I thought I would instead gather some of my favourite positive messages that remind people that attacks such as these are not the fault of a religion, but of the people who hide their horrific and cowardly actions under the label of one.

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RIP Margaret Thatcher

I am in no way qualified to talk about Margaret Thatcher’s policies and their effect on this country, having been born 3 years after her exit from office, and having never studied them in detail. I am all too aware (just from looking at my Twitter and Facebook feeds) that they divide opinion hugely.

However I think it appropriate today to pay tribute to an undoubtedly impressive woman. She obtained the highest post in the country, held it for the longest time, changed Britain’s political landscape, and she did all of this without ever compromising her dignity as a woman.The calibre of those paying tribute to Thatcher in the past few hours shows just how influential she was: Obama, Medvedev, the Queen and countless British politicians (of the Right and Left) have commented on her death, describing (I think most poignantly) how she proved to women in politics and in Britain that “there is no glass ceiling that can’t be shattered” (Obama). Whatever your politics I think this message is probably the most important to take away from Thatcher’s legacy. She proved that a woman was capable of holding any position, and could inspire a generation, a country and the world with her strength and conviction. 

I would also like to say that those rejoicing, cheering, or celebrating Thatcher’s death are essentially celebrating an old woman dying from a stroke. I find this really quite horrific and disrespectful. No matter what your opinion of a person I cannot imagine celebrating a death. It is a sad moment for many people and should be treated with due respect and tact. There is a time and a place to discuss the policies of a past PM, but that is not on the day of their death, 20 years after they exited politics. 

Until I have studied and formed my own opinions on Thatcher’s policies, I will remember her as a pioneer for women in politics, our first (and hopefully not only) female PM, and a strong and determined woman. 

RIP Margaret Thatcher, 13 October 1925 – 8 April 2013.

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I’m an Emergent Service Worker… Apparently

I took the BBC’s new ‘Class Calculator’ test and apparently I fall into the Emergent Service Worker class. I have no idea what this means, and I think I know why. I would have put myself at the higher end of the scale – I live in a nice house, go to a good University, I went to a private secondary school, and had a very upper-middle class upbringing. But the test has reminded me that all of this was the product of my parent’s hard work, not mine. I don’t own the house I live in, the government is paying upfront for my University education, and my parents help me with living costs. It is interesting to see that the first questions asked by the class calculator concern matters that most students and young people cannot relate to. We don’t really have a household income, and I know very few students with significant personal savings. In fact the test seems to exclude young people from its calculations all together, with the youngest average age of any group being 34.

However, I think this is probably a very good thing. Our society is obsessed with class – where you come from, what school you went to, what your parents do – all of this seems to factor into our valuing of a person. And even more so we seem to be obsessed with labelling these classes – I cannot tell you the number of times I have been called ‘posh’ because of my West London accent. What this new class calculator shows is that the concept of ‘class’ is much more complicated in an age of greater social mobility and indeed greater social integration. University is a prime example of this new phenomenon – thousands of young people from hugely different backgrounds concentrated in a place whose aim is to broaden their minds and encourage the forming of life-long friendships based on common interests, not common backgrounds. The fact that young people and students don’t naturally fit into the BBC’s definitions of class gives me a sense of hope that my generation will be even less concerned about class as a defining, and often divisive, factor. It also suggests that the potential success of young people cannot and should not be limited by social class, a fact that I find hugely refreshing considering our obsession with categorising people at the earliest opportunity. So have a go at the test and see what class you are put in, and whether you agree with the results!

You can take the class test here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-22000973

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