Page 1

CONTACT US AT: Tel: 020 7523 2300 Email: collective@christian-aid.org Online at: christianaidcollective.org Twitter: @TheCACollective Facebook: facebook.com/christianaidcollective

F2085

DNT ISSUE 6 • CHRISTIANAIDCOLLECTIVE.ORG

Together we are Collective.

DO NOT TIPTOE

GENDER

We are a movement of young people and students who believe the world doesn’t have to be the way it is. We’re not content to tiptoe through life. We want to shout out against injustice and challenge the systems that keep people poor. We want to run towards a new world – a better world. To be love in action. Together we can be the generation that ends poverty.

the gender edition


‘ALL AROUND YOU, PEOPLE WILL BE TIPTOEING THROUGH LIFE, JUST TO ARRIVE AT DEATH SAFELY. BUT DEAR CHILDREN, DO NOT TIPTOE. RUN, HOP, SKIP OR DANCE, JUST DON’T TIPTOE.’ Shane Claiborne

To find out more about Christian Aid Collective go to christianaidcollective.org

GUEST CONTRIBUTORS

Elisa Cunningham is a freelance illustrator in Bristol. She likes drawing people and animals, travelling, and illustrating for justice. elisacunningham.com

Rachel Stubbs creates pictures for children and adults from her London studio. She draws inspiration from everyday life, and enjoys pottering in charity shops. rachelceiliastubbs.com

Kate Alizadeh mostly creates characters, narratives, lettering pieces and nice cups of tea – check out her work at katealizadeh.net

Sophie Blaney-Parslow lives with her husband and cat. She has a blog called City Mouse in a Country House.

Join our FREE text community – text JOIN to 70060* to receive monthly messages with campaign actions, videos and exciting resources to equip you to create change where you are. *Texts are charged at your standard network rate. We may contact you again in future. If you would prefer that we didn’t call you, text NOCALL CA to 70123. If you would prefer not to receive SMS messages from us in future, text NOSMS CA to 70123.

Shutterstock/Ron Dale

For regional offices’ contact information, go to christianaidcollective.org/office-contact-information Do Not Tiptoe is available every six months. To find out when the next issue is on its way, sign up to our newsletter list at christianaidcollective.org UK registered charity no.1105851 Company no. 5171525 Scotland charity no. SC039150 NI charity no. XR94639 Company no. NI059154 ROI charity no. CHY 6998 Company no. 426928 The Christian Aid name and logo are trademarks of Christian Aid. Christian Aid Collective is a mark of Christian Aid. Do Not Tiptoe is printed on 100 per cent recycled paper © Christian Aid September 2014 J2748. Cover art: Elisa Cunningham


CONTENTS

THE GENDER ISSUE 4-7 UPFRONT AND PERSONAL Joanna Callender boots up for the real Battle of the Sexes. Meanwhile Tomi Ajayi remembers the revealing pictures of her youth, while Jim Atkins delves into his deepest, darkest fear.

8-27 GENDER 8 Inspirational quote from the founder of the Women’s Institute. 10 Why living like Jesus means justice for women: Danielle Strickland gets to grips with the Bible’s perspective on gender. 14 Do not tiptoe around men: Chris Mead explores what gender equality means for men. 18 Illustrator Rachel Stubbs interprets the Genesis creation story. 20 Breaking free: young people across the globe challenge gender norms. 23 Women: not just a piece of property: the transformation of a Kenyan village. 28 We cannot be defined: powerful poetry from Meg Cannon at koko. 30 Through the eyes of a girl.

32-39 SEE, HEAR, PRAY, DO Find feminism on Twitter and the power of cross-stitch; tell a story that will change the world; meet Disney’s new brand of princesses; and Rach Lees is starting a revolution (if you’d care to join her).


Shutterstock/Sunny Studio

‘ Imagine wishing you’d been born a boy, because it’s the only way your voice could be heard in your community ’

4 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


UPFRONT AND PERSONAL

THE BATTLE OF THE SEXES We’ve all been there. Fighting tooth and nail, with every fibre of your being. You simply have to win because your talent far outweighs your opponent’s. You can barely comprehend what it would mean to lose. Not to them. The opposite sex. To lose would be to admit that they’re superior. To let them claim the crown once and for all, as they triumphantly fist pump the air and proclaim, ‘YES! This game of frisbee, and this game alone, proves that boys are certainly better than girls.’ Games are always more competitive if they’re girls v boys. Sometimes it’s easy to imagine that gender equality is a worldwide competitive game; a fight for power where one sex has it all and the other has none. But gender doesn’t just mean boy or girl. It’s about the way that all of us are allowed to be boys or girls, men or women. It should be about freedom and expression. Imagine wishing you’d been born a boy, because it’s the only way your voice could be heard in your community. Imagine being a man under so much pressure to prove your masculinity that you choose to abuse your wife. Imagine being a 14-year-old girl who’s about to be forced into marriage because you’re not as valuable as your brother, and you need to be sold. All over the world gender brings a loss of dignity. All over the world gender restricts the freedom all humans deserve. All over the world gender brings limitations to a joy-filled life. Gender is a poverty issue. It’s not just an ‘over there’ issue. Gender affects us all, putting us under pressure as to how we should act, what job we should do, how we’re treated by those who have a different gender to us. The voices in this issue tell their own stories, showing how being male or female can be a source of oppression, but also how overcoming those obstacles can set people free. There are different stages to the journey. Some are being challenged by stereotypes, and others are starting to live life in all its fullness, free from the limitations that being ‘male’ or ‘female’ put around their neck. So the battle continues. Not for one sex to reign as champion but for a world free of gender injustice; where individuals aren’t shoehorned into roles not of their choosing, but are able to thrive as the people they were created to be. Gender impacts individuals, but together as a community we can question the negative norms and speak out for justice. The battle of the sexes is the battle for true equality. Join in at christianaidcollective.org/sign-up Joanna Callender @joanna_cal

ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 5


MY XX-RATED PHOTO FETISH When I was younger, one of my favourite ways to pass the time was to sneak into my dad’s study and explore his collection of photographs featuring various bits of a woman’s anatomy. Before I go on, I should probably explain that my father is an obstetrician and gynaecologist: he specialises in women’s health, pregnancies and childbirth. He inhabits a world of hysterectomies, menstrual cycles, caesarean sections and fallopian tubes. So his photos weren’t the titillating type you’d find on the top shelf at the newsagent. They were scientific pictures in journals and textbooks. But like most kids, I was curious about the human body. And as a self-diagnosed borderline hypochondriac, I quite enjoyed learning about the medical conditions that might afflict a woman. (I’m still haunted by the memory of one in particular: ‘bicyclist’s vulva’. Needless to say, it’s not pretty.)

Shutterstock/Julie DeGuia; Shutterstock/asharkyu

A teacher at heart, my dad loved nothing more than to talk about the mechanics of the female reproductive system, with the help of hand-drawn diagrams. And if there’s one thing he taught me, it’s that women’s bodies are a medical wonder; that mothers are some of the toughest creatures alive; that we of the XX chromosome are pretty exceptional – regardless of whether or not we ever have children. So women, whatever you see when you look in the mirror, however you feel about your appearance, whether or not you think ‘you’re worth it’, please take it from me: you’re amazing, inside and out. It’s a scientific fact, and I have the photographs to prove it.

Tomi Ajayi @trustTomi 6 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


UPFRONT AND PERSONAL

THE FEAR OF LEATHERY FAT WINGS Being a man, I’m not really scared of anything... ...except moths. It’s a completely illogical fear. They have no teeth, fangs or stingers to speak of, they don’t feast on human flesh and nor are they sentient enough to hatch simple breaks for freedom from the bedroom window. All in all, they’re humming, furry torsos with leathery, fat wings. They routinely fly (I use the term loosely) into harm’s way and fail to understand the subtle temperature differences between a light bulb and a bonfire. They’re idiots – cannon fodder for bigger flying mammals. As a man, I’m not meant to be scared of moths. Men aren’t scared of anything. Men are the protectors and providers for their families. Men take responsibility, men speak out, men act, men make things and men tear things down. So I lied. I’m also actually pretty scared of being a man. I’m scared when a woman asks me to ‘be a man’. I’m scared I’ll fail at being one. Gender is a loaded term. It carries a lot of baggage for both men and women, but like many things in life I’m coming to the realisation that the cultural application of the word is entirely of our own making; of my own making. Being a man, I’m scared of loads of things…

…especially moths.

Jim Atkins @JimityJim


Sarah Buck

GENDER


Ovidiu Hrubaru/Shutterstock.com

‘Jesus was a feminist. He treated women with equality and honour’ 10 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


Jesus Why Living Like

Means Justice For

Women

Women’s role in church is often a hot topic for debate. But Danielle Strickland argues that this isn’t just an academic issue, it’s a question of justice. The Church is made up of people who follow Jesus. They are supposed to represent God on the earth, which is an amazing opportunity because what I know about God is awesome. This wasn’t always the case of course. I used to think that God and his followers were small minded, rulebased, hypocrites out to destroy everybody’s fun. But then I had an encounter with Jesus and it changed everything. I realised that God is love. ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 11


GENDER Not just a sappy ‘holds your hand and wipes your tears’ sort of love but a ‘knocks ‘em out, takes it for the team’ kind of liberating love that empowers people. The kind of love that kicks at the darkness until it bleeds daylight. So, representing that kind of a God is an awesome opportunity. The trouble is we often get it wrong. We are so established

made equal with men and all of us are made in God’s image. This is the very first revelation of God in the Bible; that’s how important this is. So, the Church really needs to represent God well in its modeling of women’s equality. But it often fails to do this. Often, the Church models the exact opposite by continuing to teach and encourage the

‘I USED TO THINK GOD AND HIS FOLLOWERS WERE OUT TO DESTROY EVERYBODY’S FUN’ in our own culture that we represent our own interests and our own ideas instead of representing God. It’s easy to do. How we value women in the church is a great example of that. The Bible kicks off with the incredible story of creation. How we were made. This matters. It speaks into our value as human beings. It speaks deeply into our hearts about who we are, what makes us unique, and why we are even here on this planet. It tells us of the nature of God who created humanity in his image – ‘male and female he created them’. God made women and men together as a representation of himself on the earth. Then he gave them the job of taking care of the earth together. What’s so amazing about this grounding story of our purpose and value is that when that story was written women were not even considered people, let alone equal to men. Second class through and through. See, society has always told its own story about our value and worth, but God tells a different story – a true story – one that sets us free. Women were and are 12 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6

inequality of women through limited roles, narrow theology, and a lack of concern about the treatment of those outside its own walls. I’ve listened to some awful stories recently about how women have been treated by people who say they represent God. What a false representation; definitely not what God intended. When Jesus showed up on earth, people were doing just that. When he arrived, he found a culture where women were treated as property, had limited access to education, had no leadership possibilities in the community, and were often the receivers of abuse and exploitation at the hands of ‘God’s people’. Jesus chose to confront this terrible misrepresentation of God by living a different reality. Jesus was a feminist. He treated women with equality and honour in a culture that dismissed and abused them. He called them to be disciples and leaders, givers and evangelists, apostles and teachers and preachers – he healed, empowered and involved women in his ‘Kingdom come’ strategy on the earth. The Early Church was filled with women and they


tried to model God to the people around them. No one had any special status, whatever their race, tribe, background, wealth and gender. These were nonissues in their new community, this community called Church.

SO WHAT HAPPENED?

In a word – sin. Sin isn’t something pleasurable that God doesn’t want you to do. It’s that deep thing inside all of us that is broken. It’s the selfish, greedy thing that wants to be better than others – to push ourselves forward even at other people’s expense. Sin doesn’t just play out in individuals’ lives, but in society too. We craft our cultures around our sin, and exclusion is one of ways we see it. Around the world, women remain excluded from education, resources, opportunities, freedom, and equality. In the Church they are often excluded from leadership, opportunities to use their gifts, influence or freedom. The root of the inequality and exclusion experienced by women in the Church is the same as in society at large. Many, many women around the globe suffer terrible abuses because of the deep inequality that runs through the heart of all suffering in the world and sadly, many

women in the Church have to fight against the inequality that limits their potential. Such injustice is sin. And sin will always deeply misrepresent God.

HOW DO WE SPARK CHANGE?

The best way I’ve discovered to change things is this: live like Jesus. Live a life that is free from having to prove yourself. Live a life that celebrates freedom and empowers others. Live a life of beauty and healing and hope. Live a life that loves no matter what the culture, gender, background or reputation of the people you are with. That, my friends, is the best way to represent God on the earth. And what it looks like is equality – for everyone. That’s good news for women. But it’s also good news for anyone suffering from injustice. It’s the news that the Church has been called to preach to the entire earth – the good news of the gospel – that God is love and it’s a fierce, wild love that will rid the earth of injustice and set the captives free. Let’s start living that way today. Do you agree with Danielle? Carry on the conversation with friends or in your youth group!

Want to read more? Danielle suggests: • Half The Sky by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn

•W  hy Not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Hamilton

• The Liberating Truth: how Jesus empowers women by Danielle Strickland

• The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight

• Christians for Biblical Equality cbeinternational.org Danielle Strickland is a speaker, writer, justice advocate, worship leader and church planter. She serves as an officer in The Salvation Army, in a marginalized community in Edmonton, Canada. Her books include ‘Just Imagine: The social justice agenda’, ‘The Liberating Truth: How Jesus empowers women’, and ‘Boundless: Living life in overflow’. ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 13


DO NOT TIPTOE AROUND MEN

Shutterstock/Rusian Kokarev

Being a man isn’t always easy, but it has its advantages. Chris Mead considers playing life in easy mode, and the challenge to use his privilege for good.

*For those of you wondering... No, this is not Chris Mead on his games console.


GENDER

I’M A STRAIGHT WHITE MALE. IT’S A PRETTY SWEET DEAL. Writer John Scalzi likens it to playing life on the very lowest difficulty setting. I still have to move around, talk to people, achieve my goals and pass each level, but everything is just that little bit easier, faster and more pleasant for me. Why don’t I tell you a little about what it’s like to be me? Firstly, no one questions me if I say I want to direct films or race cars or lead countries. Society is used to people like me doing all those things. In fact almost all popular culture is a) made by people who look like me, and b) made for people who like the things I like. Religious leaders tend to be old versions of me. Marketers (young, slick versions of me) are falling over themselves to get me to buy their products, so they fill their adverts with things I like: pretty ladies and explosions and cars going really fast. If I play sports to an extremely high level, it will be deemed important and people will pay to watch me play. I can invent a new kind of computer, solve a dastardly murder and open a Michelin-starred restaurant and my gender won’t be the story, my achievements will be. People will be all like: ‘That is one technologically adept, crime-solving chef right there…’and they won’t feel the need to follow that up with ‘...and can you believe he’s a MAN?’ I am allowed to be funny. I am allowed to exceed everyone’s expectations. By virtue of my sexual orientation, race and gender, I am playing life in a much easier mode than others can ever dream of. Now that’s not to say that there aren’t millions of men who reject this state of affairs and are actively working in partnership with their differently gendered kin to try to redress the balance. In fact when the #yesallwomen hashtag took over Twitter earlier in 2014, a lot of us male justice-seeking types got a little bit sniffy. We were hurt that our gender had been unceremoniously cast as the enemy when some of us had been fighting alongside our female friends and colleagues all along. But even a cursory glance at the rest of this magazine should be enough to remind us that when it comes to perpetuating gender inequality it tends 16 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6

‘The enemies were not the young male gang members... The enemy was the cultural image of masculinity’


Christian Aid/Paula Plaza

to be us men who are doing and women who are being done to. We can’t just throw up our hands and say, ‘I’m not the problem, it’s that other kind of man.’ We have to accept that through a lottery of nature and a bias of nurture, we are all capable of perpetrating this horrible abuse. The facts and stats – such as 400,000 women sexually assaulted in the UK in 2013, and 40% of Zambian women exposed to genderbased violence – are too persuasive to come to any other conclusion. As with so much development, education can make all the difference. That’s the reason that so much work on gender is about empowering women. But you know what? If it’s men doing the oppressing perhaps we should be working with them too. The Centre for the Prevention of Violence (CEPREV) is a Christian Aid partner that works for peace in Nicaragua. It realised very early on in its 16-year history that the enemies of peace were not the young male gang members who terrorised deprived neighbourhoods in the capital, Managua. The enemy was the cultural image of masculinity: a status earned through violence on the streets and total, unquestioned authority in the home. It may seem trite to say this but these men were victims too – victims of a system of beliefs that expected them to prove themselves by abusing women and killing each other. Bayardo Fargas grew up feeling helpless and angry as he witnessed the beatings his Mum endured at the hands of her husband. Almost inevitably, Bayardo turned to the streets, becoming a heavy drug user, dealer and gang member in the process. ‘I don’t think I carry any dead behind me. But I’ve injured a lot of people’, he says. Today, after many years of support and counselling sessions from CEPREV his

life has been transformed. He’s helped to dismantle his old gang and is now a committed husband and father of two children. He also volunteers with CEPREV reaching out to other young men in his neighbourhood, in order to stop the cycle of drugs and violence continuing. In fact, the work of CEPREV has significantly reduced violence in many neighbourhoods of Managua. It would have been so easy to write them off as irredeemable thugs, but CEPREV saw men like Bayardo as potential solutions to the problem. And they became the solution to the problem. But I’m playing life in easy mode. The idea that violence might define my identity is as alien to me as the idea that my gender limits my value. So it’s time to stop playing, because I too can be a solution to the problem. For Bayardo’s story in his own words, head to p22. ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 17


Rachel Stubbs

GENDER


GENDER

Breaking free

Christian Aid / Sarah Malian

Meet three young adults who won’t let cultural gender norms hold them back.

‘Why should men be dominant?’ SAKAR, 25

Champion for talented women in Iraq ‘Before [Christian Aid partner] REACH came, I was a house girl. After REACH came and taught us what to do, I have been busy with the crops. It is important to bring out women from inside the house to be equal to men and beside them in demanding our needs. Do we not share in everything that happens around here? So we should share everything. Why should 20 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6

men be dominant? There are so many talented women in our villages. Through REACH we can now see and share our talents. There have been so many changes in the last 5 years. Now, girls are going to high school, college and university.’ Read more of Sakar’s story at christianaidcollective.org/sakar


Christian Aid/Natalie Naccache

ABEER, 19

Fighting the patriarchy in Lebanon ‘We live in a patriarchal system. The decision maker has always been the man in this part of the world. The workshops that I have taken with [Christian Aid partner] Najdeh have raised my awareness of these issues. I have even participated in workshops on violence against women. Through all of these workshops I have learnt that I should not be afraid or live in fear. We should be who we are. Najdeh is playing a really big role in my life. Dreams that I used to consider far-fetched I now know can be achieved by me. My dream is to have my own hairdressing business.’ Read more of Abeer’s story at christianaidcollective.org/abeer

‘Dreams that I used to consider far-fetched I now know can be achieved by me’ ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 21


GENDER

‘God saved me, so I started saving others’ BAYARDO, 31

A model of masculinity in Nicaragua ‘I was a criminal. My gang was called ‘Los Gasparines’ (after Casper the friendly ghost) because we were ghosts to the police. I don’t think I carry any dead behind me. But I’ve injured a lot of people. I heard about CEPREV [a Christian Aid partner] and finally decided to attend their therapy sessions. I liked how CEPREV treated me, with affection and love. It was my goal to change and now I have my family, my job and my clients; I work as a carpenter, painting and decorating. God saved me, so I started saving others. Now I help young men who are addicted to drugs.’

Christian Aid / Sarah Malian

Read more of Bayardo’s story at christianaidcollective.org/bayardo

22 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


All photos: Christian Aid/Elizabeth Dalziel

Women: not just a piece of property

In a country where patriarchy reigns, Kenyan men are learning what it means to truly love their wives. IN A SMALL AFRICAN VILLAGE, A SEISMIC SHIFT IS TAKING PLACE. Gerald Kimani lives in rural Kenya. He owns his own motorbike business, he jokes with his children, he makes decisions with his wife. In many ways, he is a normal father. Yet this attitude to family life is not always the norm among men in Kenya. And Gerald hasn’t always behaved this way. Traditional Kenyan culture puts the men in charge: ‘You see, when you are circumcised, you become a man. We are told, “You are the

most powerful. You are a circumcised African man! You are not supposed to cook, you are not supposed to take your child to school, you are not supposed to help at home.”’ In Kenya, and many African countries, circumcision is a rite of passage from childhood to adulthood – it means a boy has become a man. Even a man’s mother can’t ask him to do things once he is circumcised. By contrast, women have a ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 23


GENDER lower social status, especially in marriage. Gerald says: ‘When I married my wife, I saw her as my property and I thought, “I can do with you what I want.”’ But in this community in central Kenya, Christian Aid has been working with local

father group meeting in a church so a few of us came to see what it was all about. The first time when we met, things were not easy. Our teacher was a woman and we were men. We were thinking, “How can a lady teach men?”’

‘WHEN I MARRIED MY WIFE, I SAW HER AS MY PROPERTY AND THOUGHT, “I CAN DO WITH YOU WHAT I WANT”’ organisations that are challenging cultural gender stereotypes. Alice Karoki, a local nurse and an advocate for social change, helped set up a men’s father-to-father support group for Gerald and other men in the community. Gerald explains: ‘Before Sister Alice taught us, we thought a man could do anything. But Sister Alice held the first father-to-

Alice encouraged Gerald and the other men to think of basic principles to look after their wives rather than seeing them as a piece of property. ‘She told us, here it’s not about men and women, it’s about caring for our families. As she continued she taught us to love each other, to stop drinking [many men in this community spend their family income on alcohol], to stop misbehaving. ‘We started asking ourselves questions. Men started giving their testimony. We started to experience at home what we were being taught. Slowly, we saw the difference. Before, my wife and I were talking only a little. Now, I see she is a human being and this is her house; our home.’ Gerald feels like he has lived two different lives, before he went to the father-to-father support group and after: ‘Before I did not know things about the family, about taking care of my children and loving my wife and providing for them.’ Now, Gerald is telling other men what they should be doing: ‘I tell the men, “If you want your life to be good you must help your wife.” Some listen to me, others don’t. Men even come to me for advice about their wives!’

24 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


Gerald is happy to fetch water when his wife, Fridah, is tired; a small gesture with huge cultural consequences. He wants to give advice to his son about being a man: ‘When he grows up and finishes education I will sit down with him and talk to him about what I was taught. I will tell him, “love your children and love your wife.”’ Gerald and Fridah now have a relationship of equality and have both benefitted from this new attitude, especially when it comes to making decisions: ‘In the home and in the family you can’t do anything without making the decision together. We discuss together – there is nothing we do without discussion.’ Gerald is thankful: ‘Before we talked to women as though they were babies – a baby can talk but you don’t take it seriously. Now we discuss and share things together. Women are equal; even the Kenyan constitution talks about every human being equal. If all the men in the world knew the importance of being in the house together with your family and of loving each other it would be great.’ Find out how life changed for Fridah on our blog: christianaidcollective.org/fridah

‘If all men knew the importance of being together with your family and loving each other it would be great’

ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 25


Christian Aid/Natalie Naccache


Kate Alizadeh


GENDER

WE CANNOT BE DEFINED ‘Sugar and spice and all things nice.’ Is that how you define me? I may not be a girly girl, or wear my hair in pretty curls. Yes I play with dinosaurs not dolls, but ‘tomboy’? Is that how you define me? Though I try my hardest, school’s telling me I’m not achieving and these dreams I’ve been believing I should forget. ‘Unachiever’? Is that how you define me?

Missing from the face of the earth, you wanted a boy so you cancelled my birth. Honour killings, trafficked and sold, never given the chance to live life and grow old. ‘Disposable’? Is that how you define me?

A topless photo requested, sent then shared, boys leering and laughing at me in my underwear. ‘I thought he loved me, I thought he cared.’ And now a ‘slag’? Is that how you define me? I’ve heard 1 in 5 women will be a victim of rape or attempted rape in her lifetime. Am I something to be used and abused? An ‘object’? Is that how you define me? You tear in two my beating heart as you mutilate my body parts. I’m sore and unprotected, feeling tortured and disrespected. ‘Controllable’? Is that how you define me?

Exposed to, harassed and groped. You think it’s a joke, you’re ‘just a bloke’ but what you just did frightened me. Reduced to ‘body parts’? Is that how you define me? Glossy magazines say I’m made out of legs, boobs and hair, that I should expose so much of my skin and not even care. I tell myself I am more than that but these pictures are creeping in and sinking deeper into my skin. The pressure from the pages knocks me to the floor and the image in the mirror doesn’t make me happy anymore. ‘Pretty’ or ‘not pretty’? Is that how you define me?

Is that how 28 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


Meg is the founder of koko, a project to encourage, inspire and challenge girls worldwide. Join the adventure at thekokostory.com

I want to shout it from the rooftops, These words shall be a be a rally cry for the girls who don’t know why they’re feeling shy or want to die… ‘You are incredible and irreplaceable, don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise. Don’t let them get you down, please hold your head up high if you’re feeling you could drown.

They’ll try to define you, but we cannot be defined by their words. With us, one size does not fit all. Let’s start a movement and stand up tall. Sugar? Spice? Nice? Nice?! You aren’t bland! You are a million things – colourful, characterful, strong. Be brave, be yourself and sing your song.’ Meg Cannon @thekokostory

you define me? ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 29

Meg Cannon at koko

CONFLICT


GENDER

THROUGH THE EYES OF A GIRL... EMMA, 20, UK What’s your family like? I grew up living with my parents and my brother. My parents are now separated, so when I’m not at uni I spend half of my time at my dad’s house, and half with my mum and her new partner. I try to help out around the house by washing dishes or hoovering, but my brother doesn’t do very much at all! Are you at university? I have just finished my second year of philosophy at Leeds University. What job do you want to do? I aim to become a minister or a chaplain; it’s something I feel called to do. I love listening to people and learning about their lives. However, I might do some charity work or volunteering first.

Christian Aid/Lilly Peel; Emma Temple

‘I try to help out around the house ...but my brother doesn’t do very much at all’

What do you think about women’s role in society in Britain? I think that women should have an equal role to men in society, but I don’t think we’ve achieved that yet. Most of our politicians are men, and it’s still more likely for women to stay at home to look after children. There’s still a long way to go before women are treated equally to men; I think many people subconsciously see women as less powerful and less capable. Do you want to have children? I would like to have children, but not for a long time yet. Having a stable family environment is important for raising children. I haven’t thought about it much; I see it as a decision to make later on in life. Do you have friends who have already had children? Some people I knew at school have children already; they’re happy and their families are supportive, but I don’t think it’s what they would have chosen. I admire them for being able to look after their children so well when they’re so young. What makes you happy? My friends and family, singing loudly, walking in the sunshine, and having a positive attitude!

30 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


VIVI, 16, ANGOLA What’s your family like? I live with my mother. My parents are separated. We are five: two girls and three boys (the others are aged 15, 13, eight and five). I’m the eldest. Mum works so I’m the one who does everything. I do the breakfast, lunch and dinner. My brothers help me cleaning the house. Do you want to go to university? I’ve taken the exams for university but I wasn’t successful. I wanted to study economics. The lists have come out and I wasn’t on it. The majority of people did not pass. This year I will take some courses and work so that I will pass next time. What job do you want to do? Because I like numbers I would like to be an accountant. I could also be a secretary. I like IT very much. I’ve done an IT course but because I don’t have a computer at home I’m not able to practise. What do you think about women’s role in society in Angola? Women used not to be visible but now they are visible. Before women just did the household chores. You could only work at home or be a domestic maid. A woman couldn’t make any decisions. Before it was only the men who made decisions, the head of the household. Now women are visible in society. There are women who are capable of ruling a country even! Do you want to have children? I want to have children but not now. Maybe when I’m 20 or 21. I want to finish university first. Do you have friends who have already had children? One of my friends had a baby. Her father wouldn’t accept her after that and he made her leave the house. She went to live with her mother’s father. What makes you happy? To see other people happy makes me happy.

‘Mum works so I’m the one who does everything. I do the breakfast, lunch and dinner. My brothers help me clean’

ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 31


#EQUALITYTWEETS Tweets

32 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 33

Hannah Henderson

SEE HEAR PRAY DO


THE POWER OF A PARABLE The thing I love most about my job is that I get to create platforms on which people can tell stories. I feel so passionately about telling stories because I think they lie at the heart of what it is to be human. Shutterstock/lavitrei

Through stories we can find meaning in, and understanding of, the world around us. Stories touch our hearts and have the power to change our minds. Haven’t we all cried at a film or felt convicted after reading a book or seeing a play?

‘What if we were more intentional about the stories that we choose to share?’

Jen Smith is a freelance community theatre director in Glasgow. She works with a diverse range of groups sharing stories, leading workshops and creating plays. You can learn more about her work at wideopeneyes.co.uk

The nature of my job has led me to ponder how Jesus used stories in his teaching. Jesus told countless parables using culturally relevant associations and characters to make his point, but rarely explained exactly what he meant by each part of the story because they spoke for themselves. I want to be telling stories like Jesus did; stories that are so real and absorbing that people can’t help but be drawn in. But stories are not just the preserve of authors, playwrights and theatre directors. We are all storytellers. Any number of questions results in the telling of a story: how are you? So what is it that you do? How was your weekend? What if we were a little more aware of the possibilities that our answers to these questions could hold? And what if we were a little more intentional about the stories that we choose to share? We should never underestimate the impact that telling people about our lives, and the things that are important to us, can have. So share the things that God is doing in your life, share your struggles, talk about that documentary you watched last night or that film that made you cry. You might just move someone to action – to accepting the gospel, to praying for a situation, or to practically meeting a need. The next time someone asks you what you’ve been up to, I challenge you to tell them about one of the stories you’ve read in this issue. Who knows where that story might lead...

34 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


Kate Alizadeh

SEE, HEAR, PRAY, DO


SEE, HEAR, PRAY, DO

TRUE LOVE’S FIRST KISS? Sophie Blaney-Parslow gets to grips with handsome princes and damsels in distress, and wonders if happy-ever-afters might be taking on a more feminist flavour.

Christian Aid/Juliet Blackledge; Shutterstock/tawan

Spoiler alert: if you’re yet to watch Maleficent, Tangled or Frozen, proceed at your own peril!

36 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6


Unless you live under a rock, you’ll probably know that ‘gender‘ causes us some issues, both as individuals, and as a whole society. Gender stereotypes are used all the time to lump certain sexes with certain traditional roles, and we get limited by them. Pigeonholing each other like this holds us all back, and prevents women and men from realising their true potential. We’re right to speak up on obvious injustices when we see them. But it’s not just the outright discrimination that we should keep an eye open for – the music we listen to, the TV shows we watch and the films we adore can subconsciously affect our perspective on gender. Kids’ films, especially the ones that are based on traditional stories and fairy tales, don’t tend to give us a particularly inspiring picture of men and women. Let me introduce you to some stereotypical gender roles. You’ve got the handsome prince, beautiful princess, evil stepmother or witch, and of course, the cavalier male villain. The

‘The women are typecast as innocent victims in need of saving – not cool’ storylines end up being fairly basic and quite predictable – innocent princess gets into trouble, cursed by a witch or held by an evil stepmother. Then the prince kills the baddie, kisses the girl and everyone’s happy. So the women are typecast as innocent victims in need of saving – not cool. But is it just me, or does that also put a lot of pressure on men? Men are just as vulnerable and insecure as women; society just doesn’t like to admit it. Traditional fairy-tale films have piled unrealistic expectations onto men, as well as totally undervaluing those women who the men were supposed to ‘save’. The women are replicas of one another with their dress-wearing, long-haired, smiling innocence, and the men aren’t really given any interesting characteristics either. They generally wear princely garb, sing a catchy tune and lock lips when a kiss is required to save their girl. From these types of films we can also infer that only a boy, in a romantic situation, can do the kissing. I take issue with this. When I was younger, ISSUE 6 Do Not Tiptoe 37


SEE, HEAR, PRAY, DO I remember screaming at the three good fairies in Sleeping Beauty, ‘Can you not perform the kiss? You’ve looked after her for 16 years, surely you love her by now?!’ Obviously it wasn’t the right type of True Love, in Disney’s opinion. Thankfully, Disney later answered my plaintive cry. In their newer film, Maleficent, Philip the prince isn’t Aurora’s true love because she had only known him for a day. Instead, the fairy

between them, and throughout the film they only seek to protect and love each other. It’s not a man who saves either of two princesses in peril. Instead, Anna sacrifices her life so that her sister may live. The men in the film, Hans and Kristoff, are both important characters with interesting personalities, but their romantic interjections are not the point of the film. Hilariously, Kristoff and Elsa are horrified by Anna’s pledge to marry Hans,

‘Filmmakers are trying to break away from the tired stereotypes’ Maleficent’s kiss worked, because she had grown to truly love Aurora over years of looking after her.

Shutterstock/James Steidl

Tangled takes a fresh approach to the male and female main characters, making them much deeper and more interesting than usual. Rapunzel, while not worldlywise, knows how to use a frying pan to great effect and Flynn Rider is both a wanted criminal living under a false name and an orphan who just wants to live a meaningful life. That we even get to hear Flynn’s back story is a huge step forward from the traditional prince who just rocks up in time to save the day. The idea of the ‘true love’s kiss’ is modernised too. It’s not only Flynn who saves Rapunzel from the suffocating grasp of her mother; Rapunzel is just as important in saving his life with her love. It’s in Frozen, though that the sickly sweet depiction of ‘true love’s kiss’ flies out of the window. Anna has loved her sister Elsa throughout the years of separation, and vice versa. Neither blames the other for the difficulties 38 Do Not Tiptoe ISSUE 6

because she’d only just met him. Like that would ever happen, right Disney?! This new generation of children’s films doesn’t mean that filmmakers like Disney have all of a sudden grasped feminist ideals, but it does demonstrate that filmmakers are trying to break away from the tired princess/prince, hero/villain stereotypes. Given that young children are watching these films obsessively, that’s an encouraging step in the journey towards gender equality.


A GENDER REVOLUTION REVOLUTIONIST: REV O·LU TION·IST (adj.) Someone who wants to change the world — not just sitting around talking about it, but actually doing something to bring about change. In the most ruthless brutalities, in the most subtle of subtleties, in our localities and in places unknown, there is suffering as a result of gender. In common sayings and phrases, in those cultural norms that we recognise and in those we don’t, there is a deep inequality resulting from the gender we had no choice in choosing.

‘To tiptoe around these gender issues is to ignore God’s total inclusion and love for all people made in his image’

Poverty thrives because of this injustice. Outrageous suffering thrives because of this injustice. To tiptoe around these gender issues is to ignore God’s total inclusion and love for all people made in his image. There is action implicit within these pages. To tackle the root causes of this pervasive injustice we need to act. We need to strip apart how we use the power of our words to make statements on gender and then speak with a new language. We need to break down how we, through the choices we make, in our actions and doings, help injustice to thrive. Then we need to recreate what we think of as normal in a wholly inclusive way. We need to use our voices to contend with powers and structural systems until gender becomes a source of dignity and fullness of life. We need to be revolutionists because we are going against the grain. And to be revolutionists, we need to be part of a revolution. To start a gender injustice tackling revolution we need to be a collective; great transformation does not come about in isolation. Join our FREE text community – text JOIN to 70060* to receive monthly messages with campaign actions, videos and exciting resources to equip you to create change where you are.

Rach Lees is part of our Collective. She’s wondering what it means to start changing the world.

*Texts are charged at your standard network rate. We may contact you again in future. If you would prefer that we didn’t call you, text NOCALL CA to 70123. If you would prefer not to receive SMS messages from us in future, text NOSMS CA to 70123.


CONTACT US AT: Tel: 020 7523 2300 Email: collective@christian-aid.org Online at: christianaidcollective.org Twitter: @TheCACollective Facebook: facebook.com/christianaidcollective

F2085

DNT ISSUE 6 • CHRISTIANAIDCOLLECTIVE.ORG

Together we are Collective.

DO NOT TIPTOE

GENDER

We are a movement of young people and students who believe the world doesn’t have to be the way it is. We’re not content to tiptoe through life. We want to shout out against injustice and challenge the systems that keep people poor. We want to run towards a new world – a better world. To be love in action. Together we can be the generation that ends poverty.

the gender edition

Do Not Tiptoe 6  

Do Not Tiptoe is a magazine for any aspiring justice fighter or activist produced by the Christian Aid Collective. In issue 6 we're discussi...

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you