Feminist

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PATRIARCHAL FAMILY TOTEMS


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Hiiiii!

So… I was scrolling through IG the other day (living my best life, minding my own biz 😜) when I came across an innocent post that a friend of mines husband had put up of a makeshift family totem.

The wall arrangement depicted the the father at the top, followed by the mother, the child and then of course the family pet. Cute right?

On most days I would think so too and just leave it at that.

However, this time my typical response was accompanied by annoyance stemming from a single question…

Obviously their placement of the totem figures was based on traditional western interpretation of hierarchical order (top down, with the top being a position of authority and dominance).

Now before you get your nickers in a twist. I am not trying to paint this as a horrific act against feminism or undermining their family/personal expression. I respect it. Which is why I didn’t make it my business to evoke this specific conversation with them directly or leave any remarks regarding my thoughts on their post. By all means do you as long as you aren’t going out of your way to hurt people.

I am sure they probably weren’t even remotely thinking about their post in terms of patriarchy vs. feminism. To them it was probably just a cute way to depict their family. And it is. Adorable even. I am simply using this as an example of how patriarchy has been so normalized in our culture. In fact it has been so normalized that I actually feel like I have to defend myself to point something like this out to avoid being painted as a crazed feminist (I’m not, just a raging one at times lol) #ridiculous

Most of us wouldn’t even think twice about this totem formation. Most probably would set it up the same way by default and maybe even do it with a quizzical look on their face when asked to do it differently: wondering why it’s even a question. They would place the male figure (in a hetero-sexual house hold) on the top; explaining it’s perfectly normal and follows tradition (this is usually accompanied by a look of pride that I never really understood). All the while this tradition is based on the dated belief that the man is the head of the homestead and the woman his subordinate.

However, by no means is that an accurate or even acceptable assumption anymore. It may seem harmless enough but maybe we need to start considering implications of mindlessness such as this. The underlying message carries a lot of weight. The message that it sends to girls and boys equally as they grow up and form their sense of self. Clearly I’m not saying a simple wall totem goes up and a little girl will be enslaved to the patriarchy as a result or that a little boy will become a sexist entitled pig (extreme I know). But the society that SHE grows up in, that mindlessly depicts such a hierarchy through a million other constructs aimed at her, makes it a hell of a lot harder for her to be equal to her brother (in her mind as well as others).

I think it’s a conversation worth having. I don’t think I’m being petty or the “politically correct” police. All I’m asking is that we start being a bit more aware, at the least, of the implications of the not so obvious and maybe even be open to having a convo like this.

Peace and Love,

Elysianish

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The Double Standard


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I was introduced to the concept of feminism years ago. Although, at the time I never really gave it much thought. Probably because I was in middle school and I had greater pressing problems on my mind like deciding between team N’Sync or the Backstreet Boys (obviously N’Sync) or how my friend was dating my soul mate and sucking face right in front of me allll the time.  Anyway, I didn’t understand why I needed to declare I was a feminist. I mean wasn’t just “being” a woman enough? Like why did I need to go and label myself as super woman? And why the F did it even matter? Life is just fine for me…

Thankfully I grew out of my adolescent understanding of the term and grew into my big girl shoes. Looking back now I can see that I started to fight the “good fight” even back then. In my naive state of mind I didn’t understand the labels, I didn’t understand the political/social implications of my mighty meek attempts to stick it to the man (literally my father). However, what I did understand was the feeling of being treated like the lesser or the other. It wasn’t a good feeling and I knew I wouldn’t be able to keep my mouth shut like a “good girl”. All of a sudden I realized life was just fine… and I wanted more.

I grew up in a comfortable home. My parents had built a financially stable home life for for us. I can even safely say I don’t recall ever wanting something and them not providing it for me. We were involved in school activities and sports and they always wanted us to have the best of everything. They wanted us to have the best they could provide to insure they did whatever they could to give us the best chance at succeeding in life.

But for some reason I still felt like there was some sort of difference between my brother and I. I never really could put my finger on it. For the longest time I thought it was because he was the baby of the family and that’s why he got favored in many ways. He almost never was made to do chores and somehow he always got away with everything. I on the other hand was always assigned to do some ridiculous chore and somehow always managed to find myself on my fathers unfavorable side despite my far superior manners and behavior in comparison to my little bro. Clearly there was a lot more going on here between my father and I that can’t all be explained by sexism. Buttttt there was definitely a lot of that going on in the  background that added to the dysfunction between us.

You see I come from a culture that is oppressive towards women in many ways. Woman are expected to be subservient to men. If you are a good woman you know your place and that is second to the men in your life. Growing up you learned this in subtle ways. No one ever sat you down and explicitly recited this hierarchy to you as a young girl. It was just something you learned; much like socially acceptable behavior and cultural mannerisms like keeping your legs shut when wearing a dress or in every context ever. Growing up this sexist perspective was incubated in every plausible social setting imaginable.

At house parties you always saw the men sitting separately from the women, drinking, chatting and acting a fool like drunk people do. Meanwhile the women always seemed to find themselves socializing in the kitchen. A simple hand gesture or call from the men would get them whatever party food they were running low on. God forbid they get up and walk 10 ft to the kitchen to provide it for themselves. The women on the other hand always seemed to be content socializing and cooking away in a frenzy to make sure everything was just right. I was always so perplexed by this social “norm” in our culture. I was always beside myself thinking how is this ok? And why is no one bothered enough about any of this. Why the hell aren’t any of these women visibly mad! I never once saw any of the men come help in the kitchen (except for the rare woke uncle) and I never once saw any of the women join the men in the convo or a drink **gasp**. I remember thinking  “umm pretty sure the women are adults too, why the hell don’t they get to drink?” Shortly after I turned 21 I even remember asking my mom about these differences I observed, yes it was mostly prompted by a grand scheme to be able to drink w/out being chastised, and her response was disappointing. She laughed a nervous laugh and responded, “because that’s just not something our women do. It doesn’t look good”. It made me so sad. Mostly because I realized she didn’t see herself the way I saw her; as an equal to my father… actually I saw her higher up on the totem pole. Always have and always will. That sadness quickly shifted to another noxious feeling.  I just kept thinking ” What?! Seriously you’re really 100 with that explanation to yourself? To me?” Having a good time isn’t appropriate for women but it’s ok for the men? Since that day I found myself making little strides for myself, for the feminine in me and the younger generation of women in my family. Even if the act was super simple like ordering a drink at dinner or wearing something that my father didn’t approve of. Yes I realize these all sound like acts of teenage defiance. But that’s exactly my point. The women in my cultural circle were not being treated as equals or even full-fledged adults with their own wants and opinions. And that simply would not do.

I finally started to come into my own in my mid twenties. I started to actively take a stand for myself at these little family gatherings. At one event in particular I remembered seeing my younger brother (6yrs younger) being asked by one of my uncles if he wanted a drink and I was standing right next to him. But the thought didn’t even cross my uncle or my brothers mind to ask me if I wanted one. I wasn’t asked because I was a girl and girls can’t, don’t, and won’t drink. So naturally I asked my uncle, “why I wasn’t offered a drink?” And he had the most surprised look on his face that quickly resolved into a comical laugh and a challenging reply, “if you want one you can have one too.” To which I replied “captain and coke please!”.

I realized I could ask most of the family if they consider their to be a difference between the girls and the boys and most would respond with an adamant no. For most of the them it’s not sexism it’s just the way things have always been and how they are. The same as my moms answer to my question. It’s a systemic belief system that is otherwise left unchallenged. And people don’t really realize they have a belief system around something until it gets challenged and well makes them feel uncomfortable. It’s only when our internal alarms are triggered that way tend to focus our attention on something that otherwise appeared just fine to us.

This cultural sexism stems much farther than my culture. I learned the double standard extends far beyond the walls of my home, my family, and my culture. I have witnessed it amongst many many cultures and countries. Including ours. Good ol’ USA. The beacon of the free world. Yet it seems our culture is still having a hard time moving towards gender equality. Don’t get me wrong. We have made many strides. Just not nearly enough. People and women got comfortable over the past couple of decades but we are waking up again. We are realizing the women’s suffrage movement was never complete and will not be until women are truly seen as an equal to men. If, as a woman in the 21st century, I still have to make an argument for how and why I am being treated unequally; the movement is most definitely far from being over.

So if you are a woman and you feel like you are being treated unequally from your male counterparts at work, at home or anywhere, make a stand for yourself. The buck doesn’t just stop at women. If you’re a dude and witnessing the double standard you too have just as much of a responsibility to speak up. I’m not saying go stand on a street corner and picket (unless that’s what you want to do) or that you have to make some grandiose gesture. Even the smallest gesture can make a world of a difference: like simply raising awareness in your own social circles by having a conversation about it. Every bit counts. Even you just taking the time to read this and considering my perspective is progress. So thank you for your time 🙂

Peace, love and namaste,

Elysianish

 

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#INeverExpire


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” The campaign is aimed at encouraging women to challenge the belief that destiny is set at birth. The #INeverExpire campaign sheds light on the fact that age-related pressure impacts women everywhere.” – SK-II

 I just learned about the #INeverExpire campaign by SK-II the other day while flipping through my IG account. However, its been going on for a year now since the campaigns initial launch in Asia with a short film titled The Expiry Date. The campaign showcases the impact many women feel from age related pressures. Specifically it highlights the societal expiration-date of age 30 placed on women. This “expiration date” eludes to numerous implications of what a women is and isn’t, should and shouldn’t be by the age of 30.

As a woman in her 30’s I can completely relate to this.

Growing up around my immediate family I was the eldest (female) amongst my baby brother and our cousins. Although being the oldest had its perks it also came with a lot of pressure. I had to be the first to break through parental blocks on curfews, attending sleep overs, and parties. As an adult that pressure translated to having to be the first to stand up against expectations of choosing a specific career path,  accomplishing higher education degrees in a specific time frame, and the biggest one of them all… getting married by a specific age.Well lets just say I broke those expectations and the hearts of family members cringing at my so called failures.

But I didn’t care. This was my life and I was going to do it my way.

I have always done things at my own pace and to be honest I have struggled to keep up with the average timeline that people tend to stick to mostly because it never appealed to me and I thought it was a pile of S#!% 🙂 . You know the drill: graduate with a bachelors by age 21, meet someone and get married by age 25 and have 1.5 kids, own a home by age 30. I never felt the need to set goals based on an age related timeline.  I didn’t understand why these societal goals needed to be tied down to any age at all to begin with. I have always done things on my own time and in my own way despite the pressure from various social circles. I have always followed my heart over checklists. Yes, I have struggled because of some of my choices but then again who hasn’t? I refuse to contribute to the notion that life goals and milestones are more meaningful if accomplished by a certain age. There is no expiration date for hopes and dreams and most certainly not for living your life…well except for death…maybe even then… I digress…

Anyway, it’s nice to see a brand like SK-II use their social platforms to bring dialogues like these into the mainstream light. Not only are they addressing real issues but they are helping to set a new president for brands in the beauty industry. Yes the beauty industry is based on superficiality but it seems that brands like SK-II are beginning to understand that you don’t need to degrade women into a cookie cutter package of worthiness and beauty to appeal to them. Finally!

I mean I might actually consider splurging some serious dough for a product of theirs compared to the next guy because of this marketing move. It’s kind of a win win. A win for them and a win for the voice inside every woman that believes she can and should live her life however she sees fit, regardless of her age.

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PSST… I’VE NEVER HAD A VALENTINE (AND IT’S NOT A BIG DEAL)


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Dear Valentine,

Where the frack are you? I have been waiting sooo firkin long for you to come out of the wood work of cascading first dates. Year after year of being starry-eyed after the clock strikes New Year thinking I still got a chance b/c there is still the entire month of January to turn around my singledom (I make up words) before the heart ❤️ shaped confetti whirls around me on the 14th of February. Where is my grand romantic gesture? Like the ones you see in all the rom-coms that I adore. Maybe you’re a secret admirer? Well come on then. Make a move! Like a spontaneous romantic weekend getaway ? The torrential rain fall kiss that catches us off guard in downtown? Maybe we will lock eyes across a Vegas dance floor and bear our souls when we make it to the middle. Perhaps a late night research project turned to a date? I mean C’mon even an edible arrangement will do. You could have been anyone of those guys. Is there something wrong with me?… Oh wait. I’ve already had all of those experiences…Just not on V-day. So I’m going to continue to pout and make it mean all kinds of ugly things about me.

That’s pretty much how I used to relate to Valentines Day before I came into my own as a person and as a woman. For the longest time I felt mentally bulldozed by popular propaganda that if I was alone on V-Day it meant that I was lacking something. Even though I have had many wonderful dating adventures, somehow it means there is something wrong with me because I don’t have “A” valentine or a ring on my finger. If you are a girl and alone on V-day it must be because you’re not attractive enough, not skinny enough, not curvy enough,  not sexy enough or intelligent enough to attract a mate. Maybe it’s because your too confident, too unapproachable, to goal oriented, too picky or too independent. These are all rationalizations that I have heard women ask themselves and impose upon me. And now I look back and think “SERIOUSLY?” How in the world did I ever think these dialogues with myself and other women were ever acceptable. That there was something lacking in me that needed to be corrected before anyone would ever fathom being with me. Furthermore, I was roped into the belief that it was something that wasn’t happening to me. A circumstance that was created with out my participation or personal choice. That I had to be chosen by a man and deemed worthy instead of me calling the shots. And by being chosen by some other’s subjective perspective, then and only then would I be deemed worthy defined by beauty, status and success. Otherwise I would basically be failing at Darwinian selection. The horror! Thankfully women like myself are waking up to the bold face lie.

YOU CAME INTO THIS WORLD WHOLE, PERFECT, AND COMPLETE.

Here is a concept. I don’t have a Valentine because I choose not to. What?! I know right! It’s a mind-blowing concept in the 21st century. And no I’m not saying I’m choosing to be alone. I would actually love to be in a relationship. However, I refuse to be in a relationship just for the sake of being in a relationship. I refuse to settle for a lackluster experience when it comes to being in love. And I’m not interested in wasting my energy faking it when that same energy could be used to create other things I find meaningful in this life. Nope, I want fireworks! And don’t even try to tell me that doesn’t exist. Because I have seen it. And if it exists then why can’t I have that too? Exactly, there is no good reason why I can’t if beck with the long hair can. Same goes for you. So tell me I have my head up in the clouds. I don’t care. I rather be alone than basically hand my heart to someone while saying ” You’ll do”.

Also, whats with this lingering misconception that one must be paired up with a suitable mate to truly be happy and fulfilled with one’s life? Does my life, the things I have created, the non-romantic relationships I have fostered, and the experiences I have allowed myself to feel joy in not amount to a damn thing if I’m single? Is it really hard to believe that I can experience the same level of happiness, joy and contentment as my paired up counterparts? I don’t think so. So do your single friends a favor people. Stop feeling sorry for them and trying to set them up (unless they want you to). And if only for a moment, believe them when they say “I’m good :)”.

So ladies if you are single on Valentines please don’t fret. Enjoy the day, celebrate love, or ignore it because it’s just another consumerist holiday. Basically do whatever you want. Just don’t get yourself down about it because it doesn’t mean a damn thing about you. And if you do have a Valentine than that’s awesome too. Do all the things mentioned above. Just keep in mind it also doesn’t mean a damn thing about you 😉

Happy V-DAY

♥️ 💜 ♥️

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LET’S DEFINE FEMINISM


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In light of recent political developments and the rise of various political figures the feminist movement is on a bold rise again. However, feminism isn’t a new concept. The roots of the movement can be traced back to 1895 in the UK and the US. Originally it focused on equal contract and property rights for women. We even had to fight for the equal right to our own babies…that we carry….inside of us…using up our life source like aliens…for nine months… but I digress. By the end of the nineteenth century activists primarily focused on political mobility, particularly the right of women suffrage. Even back then feminists such as Voltairine de Cleyre and Margaret Sanger were still active in campaigning for women’s sexual, reproductive, and economic rights at this time. (History facts from this page)
Basically we feminist, and I say feminist because it is unwise to use women and feminist interchangeable (sadly not all women subscribe to the idea of feminism, and men can be feminist too 🙂 ), have been fighting for this ish a loooong frikin time!
Often times when it comes to politically charged verbiage the meaning and definition of terms gets misconstrued and warped into all kinds of ideas and meanings; to the extent that nobody knows what the hell they are really talking about. So I thought I would take a moment and sit right here and explain what feminism is and who a feminist is.
What it is:
noun
noun: feminism
  1. the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.
    synonyms: the women’s movement, the feminist movement, women’s liberation, female emancipation, women’s rights;

    informal women’s lib
    “a longtime advocate of feminism”

     

Feminist:

noun
noun: feminist; plural noun: feminists
  1. 1.
    a person who supports feminism.
adjective
adjective: feminist
  1. 1.
    relating to or supporting feminism.
    “feminist literature”

     

Who and What it is not:

  • ONLY Women that hate men.
  • The belief that women are superior to men.
  • ONLY women that are lesbians.
  • Someone that hates bananas and Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl” song.
  • Someone that ONLY likes to dress “masculine”.
  • Someone that ONLY likes to dress “feminine”.
  • The belief that circular shapes are superior to triangle shapes.
  • Someone that views being “feminine” negatively.
  • Someone that views being “masculine” negatively.
  • Someone that hates the color pink.
  • Someone that believes everyone should be just like them.
  • Women that are ugly and single. And probably will be until the day they die.

The list can go on and on but hopefully you get the idea. And the idea (in case you missed it) is that these alternative opinions and beliefs about feminism and feminist are ridiculous and completely misinformed. Clearly some of these ideas are much easier to identify as absurd than the others, but none the less they are all absurd. These negative notions circling the movement are nothing but false accusations made by individuals with overcompensating egos (poor little things). Now do some of those variations exist. Yes. But they do not construct the definition of feminism. Furthermore, if someone does perpetuate these sort of negative beliefs whilst calling themselves a feminist then they are severely dissociated from the movement. Unfortunately, yes there are dum dum’s peddling these ideas and stereotypes out there. But do you really want to join them in their dum dum-ness? I didn’t think so. So don’t be a dum dum. Be informed.