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EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Hon Jiun Wong DEPUTY EDITOR Grace Witherden CREATIVE DIRECTOR Federica de Caria SENIOR EDITOR Amita Joshi EDITORIAL Marie-Amelie Heuls Jasmine Rapson Camilla Brugrand Pippa Allen-Kinross Sarah Barratt Kelvin Yee Priscilla Acuña P.T. Soh
COVER MODEL: Marie-Amelie Heuls PHOTOGRAPHER: Federica de Caria
Editor’s Letter J Magazine was created as an outlet for the frustration I felt with my life and my career. How was I to get experience and develop as an individual if I was never given the chance to do so? The many letters of rejection and the closed doors seem to only tell me and my colleagues that maybe journalism wasn’t the right path for us. That we would never make it in this industry. And for a while, I was inclined to believe it. But that isn’t what the industry is built on. It’s not made up of people who are willing to give up at the first closed door, nor is it filled with people who wait for an opened hand to show them the way. It’s made up of stubborn, self-driven and passionate individuals. Story-tellers. Artists. Composers of the human language. Journalism is for people who choose to blast a hole through the wall, rather than wait for a door to open. If I can’t do that, then journalism isn’t right for me. And that’s my fault, not the fault of the rejection letters and the discouraging bosses. I often ask myself where my perserverance comes from, and although the answer was so embarrasingly obvious, it took me quite some time to realise that it comes from the women around me. My mother. My sister. Girlfriends. Friends. Teachers. Strangers. My own mother never ceases to tell me how much she loves me and how proud she is of me. While I am glad for the ego boost, I rarely tell her how proud I am of her. She’s gone from a housewife taking care of four noisy, needy and problematic children to the business world. What I am most proud of about my mother is how she’s developed into a strong, independent and vocal woman. The world is not an easy place for women, and for those who are resilient against the male-dominated atmosphere of society, I have nothing but the utmost respect and admiration for them. So for this issue, where we celebrate women and highlight the issues that face them and the obstacles still left to overcome, I would like to dedicate it to all the women I’ve encountered in my life. Thank you.
Table of Contents 6 WOMEN OF THE WORLD FESTIVAL
42 POLITICAL WAGS
10 RAPE DOCUMENTARY 47 BEATING BREAST CANCER BANNED FROM HOME
14 PADS AGAINST SEXISM
50 IS IT NOW FASHIONABLE TO BE A FEMINIST?
18 LEGAL DISCRIMINATION? 52 THE VIRGIN MARY AND FEMINISM
22 SELF-DECLARED UNFIT 58 MEN ARE FEMINISTS TOO FOR MARRIAGE
24 THE FRENCH FASHION
62 I WOULD LIKE TO TALK
30 IT’S TIME WE TOOK
66 A TIMELINE OF WOMEN’S
FORCE FOR GOOD
RIGHT TO VOTE
32 THE WOMEN FORCE
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Women of the W Festival 2015
A WEEK OF FEMALE STRENGTH AND EMPOWER WORDS: MARIE-AMELIE HEULS
IMAGE CREDIT: SCOTT SWIGART
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J MAGAZINE | ISSUE 2 | THE WOMEN ISSUE | 8 emale Muslim Boxers. I already saw a series of pictures of female Somali Basketball players by Danish photojournalist Jan Grarup, but they hung in an art gallery. Here, I was going to get a first hand experience. Even though it was a theatre piece, the inspiration for the script came by real stories of young Muslim English women, whose aim is to be understood by people in and outside of their community. Despite the poor description of the ticket office of London’s Southbank Centre, I found rather quickly the artist’s entrance. Me and approximately 35 other curious
seventeen and twenty-three, but there voices were loud and firm. It was not only about boxing, but the fight of Muslim girls to follow their wishes, hopes and dreams without the fear of shaming someone. Questions, which were familiar even to the actors, like, if their parents did not have a problem of them being a female boxer (or interpreting one), why would their neighbour? Why having others decide on whom you fall in love with? When wearing a headscarf, why feeling judged? Why is it that in both ways, inside and outside their community, young Muslim women feel they have to justify themselves? It is almost impossible to
Why is it that in both ways, inside and outside their community, young Muslim women feel they have to justify themselves?
people waited impatiently to take our seats inside the theatre hall, and we were asked to expect the unexpected. Unlike usual plays, where the audience sit on their purchased seats and the actors perform on stage, here spectators and artists are on the same level. With a huge boxing ring in the middle of the room, five young girls were hitting against punching bags, rope jumping and shouting out to run faster or hit stronger. Spotlights lit up the actions of the boxers, following them around, each time they moved, or said something. Likewise, we were also invited to engage in the performance by relocating ourselves around them, depending on where the action was taking place. They were only between
describe in words, how this spectacle leaves the spectator behind. Guilty, on the one hand to assume clichés, by seeing female Muslim boxers as a surprising phenomenon, but touched, on the other hand, to experience the strength of women, most, quietly (or not), think of being oppressed by their own peers. The 5th WOW Women of the World Festival is a week filled with content, which undoubtedly marked, both visitors and participants equally, like in this very special moment of early-morninggroup-bonding. “I will ask you several questions, and if it applies to you, stand up or raise your hand,” a raw, female voice asks an audience of at least two hundred people.
“Have you ever been in love?” – most of the audience stand up. “Who of you is/was married?”A bunch of them sit down. “Who is still married?” – Only a few left. “Who is married for more than ten years?” – Even less left. “Who is happily married for more than twenty years?” I can see ten people standing. “Who is married for more than thirty or forty years?” – I count four people. Applause. “Who experienced abuse or rape by a partner, relative, or stranger?” – I look around. A cold shiver runs over my back. More than half of the people, men and women are standing in the audience. Again a loud applause, and despite the topic, to my surprise, even a cheering one.
gay rights and much more. It was impossible not to feel empowered and sucked in by the energy of this event. Not only individual stories were being told, but general topics, like fashion, were also discussed. Four participants, who are trying to change and shape the business they are in now, represented the industry. Sakina M’Sa, a French designer, who was one of them, is convinced that if the consumer is willing to change its habits, so is the world of fashion. She, on her behalf, creates her collection through waste products of big fashion houses. In a team of 15 other women, who had difficulties finding a job due to language border or
Everywhere you look and walk, there are especially, women of any age group and origin, exchanging stories and thoughts with each other. BBC Women’s Hour set up a glass cube, where topics of interest were being discussed on air, and if wanted, one could submit themes for upcoming talks. The lobby of the Southbank Centre felt like a busy anthill, full of visitors, gathering around the different desks and stands, set up, to address women’s issues. The obvious and less obvious ones. It went from an improvised hairdresser and nail studio, native fashion and jewellery from all over the globe, to informative stands on fighting child marriage, the stigmas concerning female bleeding,
age, she keeps up with other high fashion brands, after just opening her first boutique. Sitting on the right side of her, there are two British renowned designers, who shifted their production back to Europe and a magnificent plus size model, whose curves are as beautiful as her contagious smile. No matter the severance of the issue, at the end of the sequence, I always went out even more proud to be a woman. Sakina M’Sa said something very important to me, in an interview, which I am never going to forget. Every woman has to fight different fights, but it is on us, those living a comfortable life to fight for those, who are in a less fortunate situation.
“Who experienced abuse or rape by a partner, relative, or stranger?” – I look around. A cold shiver runs over my back.
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Rape Documenta Ho
THE BANNING OF THE DOCUMENTARY ‘IND GANG RAPE OF A YOUNG FEMALE MEDICIN CAUSED AN INTERNATIONAL OUTCRY ABOU TAKING TO THE STREETS OF ALL CORNER
WORDS: CAMIL IMAGES: RAM
ary Banned From ome
DIA’S DAUGHTER’ ABOUT THE AGGRESSIVE NE STUDENT THAT LED TO HER DEATH, HAS UT WOMEN RIGHTS, AND PROTESTERS ARE RS OF THE WORLD TO DEMAND CHANGE.
LLA BRUGRAND MESH LALWANI
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the 8th of March, better known as International Women’s Day, on BBC’s Storyville. It wasn’t long before the horrendous image of India spread to social media and reached all corners of the world. The Delhi police went to great lengths to get a court to prevent the broadcast of India’s Daughter on Indian TV stations. Before the documentary was even released, Indian authorities
Millionaire came out in 2008, painting the country with drastic contrasts between the poor and rich, the government wasn’t as hesistant to broadcast the film. Some could say that it was done to attract more attention to the country. Feature writer, Tatiana Dias, 22, originally from Goa, India, says that she believes the reason the Indian media didn’t Slumdog Millionaire as much as Indian Daughter was is partiaully due to its recognition by the West. “They took pride in the fact that the Oscar was ours, although it was a British film technically. Anyway it was mainly the hype behind the fiction, whereas the rape documentary is something that is absolutely true. Female foetus abortions are much higher in India because rural families believe that girls the disgraceful view many banned TV stations from airing are a burden. They would need Indian men had of women in the an interview with convicted them to get marry and send rapist Mukesh Singh, after he them off, whole boys take on the 21st century. The film examines the mind- said that Jyoti in would not have family name and business. “Of course all men aren’t set of the rapists and the two been killed if she hadn’t fought creeps in India but the mentality lawyers who defended them back. Students in India, along with is such that at times women are during their trail for Jyoti’s rape feminist organisations are looked down upon.” and murder. The literacy rate in North It focuses on the inequality fighting the High Court and the between women and men and Chief Justice to lift the ban on India is significant lower than the south, which could explain paints a disturbing picture of the the documentary. Surprisingly enough, when the why men have a certain attitude value of a female life. The documentary aired close to Oscar winning movie Slumdog towards rape: it’s ‘okay’ to do. he brutal gang rape of 23year old student Jyoti Singh on a moving bus in Delhi on a December evening in 2012 has now been told to a worldwide audience by documentary maker Leslee Udwin. It has led to people from all over the world protesting for women’s rights and against the ill treatment of women in India on a daily basis. The story manages to captures
Instead of accepting and changing, they are banning. That’s what is making everyone furious. India is a democratic country; in fact it is the largest democracy in the world.
“The statements made in the video are definitely appalling. Blaming the girl for rape, justifying the rape, the lawyers’ statements- that’s all a reflection of what part of society thinks of women.” The attitude in many Indian homes is that even if a woman has a job, she is still expected to come home from work and cook for her husband. A woman’s place is to serve her husband. “In summary that’s what the lawyers’ and convict was saying, they raped her to show her her place. You do not see it as much in the cities because people are educated, they are aware of what’s wrong and what’s right, however you do have cases of even teasing, staring, harassment and that’s because that mental state of objectifying
women still exists.” Dias feels that the documentary was a message to the people and the government of India. “I do feel that it does incorporate the case of Jyoti Singh and her family struggles, rather than addressing issue as a whole.” “That’s something I didn’t quite like because at the end of the day it is a message to make the world aware of rape, rather than ‘the convicts raped because they come from poor backgrounds’”. The documentary is supposed to be a wake-up-call for the government and many people have expressed anger, blaming them for trying to cover up the facts. “Instead of accepting and changing, they are banning.
That’s what is making everyone furious. India is a democratic country; in fact it is the largest democracy in the world. What’s democracy if your voice isn’t being heard?” Dias emphasises that the main thing that has to be changed are the attitudes towards women. She refers to the ‘patriarchal attitude ‘and the ’It’s okay. Let it be attitude.’ “Education starts at home, so if parents educate their sons to respect women, if father’s treat their wives like crap, the son will learn the women the same way. The government needs to act towards rape.” She encourages the Indian population to shame the rapists instead of the victims and instead of hushing the issue, to make noise and demand justice.
Ram Singh (died); other adult defendants were sentenced to death by hanging; the juvenile defendant sentenced to three years in a reform facility. The other convicts were Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vinay Sharma, Pawan Gupta, Akshay Thakur and an unnamed juvenile; all were found guilty for rape, murder, kidnapping, robbery and assault. J MAGAZINE | ISSUE 2 | THE WOMEN ISSUE | 13
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Pads Against Sexism WORDS: FEDERICA DE CARIA
n March 8th, two girls were walking the streets of Karlsruhe. In their hands, there were forty sanitary pads, each one with attach a different quote. The quotes where shouting feminist messages like: “Rapists rape people, not outfits” or “You would look so beautiful if you… NO!” The train station of Karlsruhe and the centre of Karlsruhe, on March the 8th, Women’s Day, thanks to Elonë Kastrati and her fourteen years old sister, found themselves covered in a new outfit. Sanitary pads were stacked up all over. Why did they do that and who are those two girls? I had a Skype call with Elonë and even if her answer to the second question was quite singular, she had a pretty high position about the first one. But I will tell you about both. “I spent the last period
thinking a lot about gender equality and feminism and then the 8th came. I knew that even if it were Women’s Day no one would have done anything. No one goes on the street anymore for Women’s Day. So I decided to do something”, said Elonë when I asked her why she decided to stick up sanitary pads on the street. It needs to be said that Elonë, the mind behind what then became a viral campaign under the hashtag #padsagainstsexism, is a nineteen years old economy
student, who hates economy and has strong feelings about gender equality. “I’m used to collecting quotes with strong feminist messages I find on Instagram, but I didn’t do this with any purpose in mind at the beginning. The idea of the pad came after”, she said. The pad is a provocative symbol, and she knew that. People said that the best ideas come to you when you’re bored to death and probably they are right. “I was at a party in the Berlin Youth Centre one night.
I was bored, and I just wanted to go home. I was sitting on a sofa near a window and on that window there avwas a pad. It was stacked there, white, with nothing on it. I thought it was such a strong symbol. I was staring at it thinking of the pad as object, thinking of the fact that we consider it something dirty, to hide, when we actually shouldn’t.” This happens months before March the 8th, but in Elonë’s mind, that pad in the Berlin’s Youth Centre, stacked like it was on that window. An
idea’s a glimpse coming when it’s less expected, and this is what happened to her. She happened to connect the dots on Women’s Day and the #padagainstsexism campaign started. No one tried to stop the two girls while they were sticking the pads. People were just curious and they began gradually to look at them like they were in an open gallery and what was in front of them was a new modern art conceptual opera. Soon the #padsagainstsexism
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campaign began to spread fast. It went in few weeks from Germany to India, Pakistan, Brazil, South Africa and more. “A guy from India got in contact with me. Him and his friends wanted to go on the street. In India. Everyone knows what the situation in India is and how risky it was to do that. I’m still amazed. This shows that there are men in India that are ready to fight for women’s rights.” Elonë is originally from Kosovo. She moved to Germany later on with her family, but she’s lived in the region for quite a while. At least enough to say: “I wouldn’t dare to compare it, Kosovo and India I mean, but I can say that I experienced discrimination simply walking
on the street. You can’t for example walk alone there without boys saying something about you. Things like ‘hey sweetie’ or sending you noisy kisses. You do as a woman feel uncomfortable in this kind of situation, don’t you?”
Feminism is equality and nothing else.
She’s right, you do. So I thought to ask her if she ever acted like that with guys to see their reaction. She started laughing because she did and apparently the result was pretty funny. “One night while we were at a party, I said to my friend, why we don’t make guys feel like they would
sometimes make us feel other girls. They accepted and… you wouldn’t believe the guy’s reaction. I just thought that their eyes would have gone out of their heads. They were kind of scared.” A fun play that has much more behind. Unfortunately, not everyone reacted positively to the campaign. Elonë told me that the most aggressive comments on the net she received were, surprisingly or not, from women. “Sometimes we are our worst enemy,” she said. “They called me a whore and bitch, but when it happens I think of the people from all over the world that text me and say to me that they want to do the same. These kind of thoughts give me strength.” When a woman, still half girl,
show to have such temper it makes you thing she had an unusually strong role model and this is true also for her. The only thing is that the gender might surprise you. Elonë’s role model is her dad. “I think my dad is a feminist too”, she explained, “He never has a bad word for anyone. Every answer to my millions
responsible to speak out for who hasn’t been as lucky as I am.” So this was the long answer to the question of why she did it, why she went on the street on Women’s Day, which, in brief, is simply because she believes in the power of everyone to act. The answer to the second big
They called me a whore and bitch, but when it happens, I think of the people from all over the world that text me and say to me that they want to do the same. These kind of thoughts give me strength.
of questions is an equality answer. I am what I am just because of my parents, and since I’ve been that lucky I feel
question, who is this girl? It’s just a no one and a great one at the same time. “I don’t want to be a popular face or this sort
of thing. I only want to spread this message. I want people to think and talk about it, nothing else”, she said. Before saying bye, I asked her if she was thinking of another campaign, if she would have continued to fight for gender equality and she said, “of course, but I don’t set myself under pressure to search for a new idea or something, I hate that. When I have another idea, I will. Last time I didn’t pretend it would have happened anything and...” And it is right Elonë, look at the #padsagainstsexism campaign now. All this story shows simply how powerful the ideas of every one of us could be.
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Legal Discrimination? DID YOU THINK A DRIVING BAN FOR WOMEN IN SAUDI ARABIA WAS BAD? OR PERHAPS THAT ALL THE LAWS THAT DISCRIMINATE AGAINST WOMEN EXISTED ONLY OUTSIDE THE WESTERN WORLD? THINK AGAIN.
WORDS: CAMILLA BRUGRAND
IMAGE CREDIT: KYRRE GJERSTAD / IMCREATOR.COM
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t’s been 20 years since the great women’s conference in Beijing, but there are still 44 countries that have laws discriminating males and females. This has resulted in the #unsexylaws campaign, which is run by Equality Now. Here are the top ten laws that discriminate against women. For more information about the campaign, visit www.equalitynow.org
ccording to traditional custom and Islamic law, a marriage entered into is one that is powlygamous - i.e. polygamy is normal.
arital rape is not a criminal offence in India. According to Section 375 in the Indian Penal Code, “sexual intercourse by man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape”.
ere, rape is defined as the act of sexual intercourse with any person not under fourteen years of age and another indvividual who is not their spouse.
n individual who abducts a person and then chooses to marry them subsequently cannot be punished in Malta.
Sex discrimination in marital laws ren aspects of family relations before, during girls to be married when th
The Republic of the Congo
iolence done by the husband is permissible so long as the objective behind it was to correct the wife.
he Democratic Republic of Congo’s Family Code of 1987 says that a husband is head of the household and a wife must obey him and obtain his permission to provide a personal service and for all legal actions. The husband also determines the family residence and can assume control over his wife’s property.
woman may have a different profession and career from her husband, but that is only if the husband allows it.
he Personal Status Act no. 20 of 1992 says that a wife has to obey her husband. This restricts her movements outside the marital home and requires her to have sexual intercourse with him.
nder women subordinate in many g and after marriage. It also permits hey are still children.
- EQUALITY NOW.
omen driving is not only illegal, but it is also an indisputable sign of immorality.
IMAGE CREDIT: CIAT INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR TROPICAL AGRICULTURE / RYAN G. SMITH / CHARLES HAMILTON / LINDSAY MGBOR / DEPARTMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT / THOMAS HAWK
mother cannot transmit their citizenship to children on the same equal terms as their father, when the child is born outside marriage. Relationship between the child and father must be established through secure evidence.
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Self-declared ‘Unﬁt for Marriage’ THE REACTIONS FROM 23-YEAR-OLD, INDHUJA PILLAI WERE STRONG AFTER HER PARENTS PUT HER PROFILE UP ON DATING WEBSITES IN HOPE OF FINDING A SUITABLE HUSBAND. THE YOUNG INDIAN WOMAN’S RESPONSE HAS NOW GONE VIRAL AND SHE HAS BEEN PRAISED HER FOR HER INDEPENDENCE. CAMILLA BRUGRAND GOT AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH PILLAI BEFORE SHE DECIDED TO STAY AWAY FROM THE LIMELIGHT.
Women want to settle down. They want a life, a husband and a kid. Not many fight to live independently.
ndhuja Pillai posted a brutally honest ‘Marriage CV’ on her website where she explains perfectly why she is not marriage material. Among the self-descriptions were statements such as “I wear glasses and look dorky in them,” “Not a spendthrift or a shopaholic,” “Detest masala & drama,” “not a TV fan” and “I don’t read.” Her CV has been viewed over 250 000 times and resulted in 30 marriage proposals. The statement comes in light of the documentary India’s Daughter showing the country’s poor views towards females, but also close to the international Women’s Day. The response has been enormous and women have praised Indhuja for the way she handled the marriage pressure. Letters and emails have been written to her showing support for women demanding
independence. “Almost every woman who wrote to me spoke about the matter being dealt with guts. They were able to relate to this, because, of course, parents asking you to get married once you reach the ”marriage-able” age, happens in almost every household here. I think most of them are fighting as well in their own ways. Indhuja family was shocked when the story vent viral, but the content of the self-made marriage CV was not news to them. “They know I’m a bit difficult to handle and they know my requirements and me so it wasn’t really new to them. They were also surprised about how viral it has gone though.” The overwhelming media coverage of her CV and how it relates to women’s rights and the current controversy surrounding the Indian government and the
documentary India’s Daughter has baffled Indhuja. “I’m not the right person to talk about this. I haven’t thought about women’s rights at all and I’m not even sure how to relate this to that.” Even though many have applauded her attitude towards marriage, the young Indian female still believes that there has many women that want the traditional life. “Women want to settle down. They want a life, a husband and a kid. Not many fight to live independently.” Because of the hundreds of friend requests on social media and inquiries from the media, Indhuja has decided to withdraw from all the attention. ”Messages in the ’others’ folder, are now ’marked as read’. Indhuja apologies that she was not able to respond to everyone. She said: “Although, I’m really grateful for the love”.
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The French Fas Force for Good WORDS & IMAGES: MARIE-AMELIE HEULS
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parisian Gallery in the 3rd district at 11am in the morning. It’s Fashion week, so full of sneaky journalists, trying to get a look at designers’ new autumn/ winter collections. “I am here for Sakina, she invited me.” The woman at the reception desk seemed suspicious about a young girl with a camera entering her gallery. I feel strangely guilty about not satisfying her expectations of being a lost tourist, which would explain the Nikon D5100 around my neck, but follow her without a word down the stairs. There she was. Sitting on a simple wooden chair, as rustic
as the cave-like setting of her showroom. Sakina M’Sa jumped up for a familiar warm welcome, with a firm hug and two kisses, left and right, inviting me to sit with her and her assistant. While the lady with the dark look in her eyes left us to it, Sakina started scribbling in her notebook. The pages were covered with bubbles, which had texts in it, utterly ignoring the alignment of the lines. On the other hand, it was a music book, so squeezing letters into space, made for notes, seemed wrong anyways. “I love music, so when I do my bubbly to-do list, it feels even greater to write on the same pages as a composer,” she said
smiling, when crossing out the things she had already done. As her assistant started talking about the need for a good playlist in her new shop in the Jewish/artsy/bobo/hipster district “Marais”, grasping Sakina’s full attention, I had a look around. Her clothes charm in the same way, she does as a person. Bright in their colors and with an interesting twist in texture and design, I think of the women, Sakina told me about. Different ethical backgrounds, but a similar struggle to find employment, brought 15 women in a very poor district in Paris, Barbès, together in Sakina’s studio working on her collections. Pre-fashion week
was very busy, so now they enjoy a week of vacation. It seems surreal to find the giggly French fashion designer in a gallery and showroom, in the middle of a very trendy and artsy district, far away from her own not so glamorous neighborhood. But to her, there is nothing wrong with that; one has to reach out for the chances life has to offer. The first time, I met Sakina M’Sa, she was smart casually dressed with dark olive ankle boots, a golden used-look leather skirt, and a beige cashmere pullover. It seemed hard to believe that she started wearing proper clothes only when moving to France. She spent her first few years
in Madagascar together with her Comorian grandmother, climbing trees and enjoying a carefree childhood, far away from a busy city life. Seven years old, she had to put on a decent outfit for the first time and joined her parents in Marseille. Sakina soon realized that she did not exactly leave her island for a simple family reunion. While she was growing within the cultural diversity surrounding her she chose to dress like a punk, her father had other plans for her. She was fourteen years old, at this stage, which seemed old enough for him to marry her off to another man, but she refused. Pulled in by the bright and colorful variety of cultures in
Marseille, she found a way to express herself and got into fashion. From an early stage on, due to a lack of resources, the young wannabe creator helped herself through waste products to visualize her ideas. Her future, however, did not lie in the South of France. As a believing Buddhist, she was convinced, that one had to “transform poison into a promising magic elixir” and she said, “this gave me the chance, as a woman, to say no and go to Paris to become a fashion designer.” With a solid portion of courage and self-confidence, not even the rejection of Paris’ high fashion houses could put her off realizing her dream.
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The metropolis of elegantly dressed men and women did not seem to make a spot for her, so she created her own. A few tube stops away from the vast boulevards, she found herself in Barbès. The Comorian origin designer set up her atelier in a borough similar to the one inspiring her in Marseille in the first place and so she felt immediately at home. Considerably far from everything that’s considered chic and à la mode, she hasn’t moved from the 18th district
since. She always wanted to remain in a lively, loud, and exciting environment, where she could hear children playing in the streets, when opening her windows. The French designer is persuaded that the fashion industry needs movements like the one in support for the shooting of journalists at Charlie Hebdo to change its ethics. Her brand, even though sold and presented on a highfashion basis, fulfills three points very close to her heart. First, it does not create
additional waste, since she only uses what big houses waste, and second and third, she wants to empower women to work together and strive
It’s on us, who live in p for those in conflicted o have t
for change in this superficially known business. “It is not only fashion, but also its consumers who have to change their thinking,” she said, that “all inspiring people, like Nelson Mandela
or Martin Luther King, started by themselves, but the change they caused, happened with people questioning the current situation.”
peaceful countries to fight ones. This is the fight we to fight.
She met Jude Kelly, the organizer of the WOW festival in Shanghai and was very pleased to be part of this years’ edition, raising awareness about being a woman in different parts of the world and their challenges.
“I am here because it reflects my values and even though I am a designer, I don’t wear ear plugs,” she said. Her wish would be to have an impact with her approach to fashion, but she has an even greater one. In her instance, she is very happy being a woman in France in 2015 and living her life, because she knows, stories can be different not even that far from her doorstep. “Every woman fights different fights,” she said, but hers’ is to react to injustice, not as
an activist, but as a female designer. “My wish is peace. You will find my wish banal, but its peace,” she said, adding, “it’s on us, who live in peaceful countries to fight for those in conflicted ones. This is the fight we have to fight.” I glanced a last time over her new collection, exchanged two kisses left and right, and a hearty goodbye, only a few minutes before the lady with the dark look could chase me out of the gallery.
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It’s Time We Took Fem WORDS: SARAH BARRATT
’m wearing an oversized sheep skin coat done up to the neck, jeans and flat black boots – obviously screaming for male attention. A middle aged man somewhat resembling Ragetti the glass eyed dunce from Pirates of the Caribbean, staggers toward me. Evidently, judging by the hoard of balding middle-aged men behind him, he is on some hideous “LADS NIGHT OUT”. He stumbles from pole to pole until he reaches the one closest to me, which he tightly grip. He’s here to stay. Words fail him at first, so he stares at me like a deranged lunatic. He is mumbling slurred sounds under his breath. I have no interest in hearing them, and in a desperate bit to appear aloof, develop a fascination with a piece of fluff attached to my left glove. I’m not entirely sure whether he intends to be so threatening, but he is certainly succeeding. He misunderstands my silence as an invitation to become more vocal. I can’t work out whether he is inadvertently hitting on me or plotting the way in which he is going to dispose of my dismembered corpse. Either way I really don’t like it. After what feels like five hours, I’m still adhering to the rules of urban solitude, and so is everybody else in the carriage.
I implicitly ignore him, while everybody else implicitly ignores me. I now alternate between staring at my knees, plucking up the courage to glance around – willing anybody to make eye contact (nobody dares), briefly glimpsing up at my own reflection in the window – contemplating how pathetic I look, and then staring back down at my knees again. I’ve pissed this guy off. Supposedly because he is drunk and because I am a girl alone on a train, I am obliged to engage with him in some sort of unintelligent repartee. I resist and continue to stare at my knees, feeling like a small child and longing for somebody older and wiser than me to intervene. No such luck. Apparently my antipathy toward crude drunk men means that I’m incredibly “stuck up”. He turns to the hoard of vile inebriates behind him to inform them, and the rest of the train, of this fact. They, agree, and proceed to chant the fact that I am “SOOOO STUCK UP” in unanimous song which they seem to have pre-prepared should such an occasion arise. The song finally ceases and silence resumes. – For about 30 seconds, whilst they regain strength sourced from their
cans of Guinness and reaffirm the fact that they’re the “LADS LADS LADS”. But apparently I deserve greater punishment and humiliation for my (lack of) action. “She’s so stuck up”, announces the ringleader to the entire train, “she definitely takes it up the arse”. Sorry what? I think, ok enough, I’ll say something now. There are words circulating in my head but I can’t seem to order them correctly, and I fear they’ll come out wrong. I gulp, I think I’ll just open my mouth and hope that an appropriately fiery feminist rant falls out. Instead I can’t talk at all. I feel I have no authority. Nobody else on the tube thinks I’m worth speaking up for. And now neither do I. And so now they’re chanting “SHEEEE TAKES IT UP THE ARSE” in unison – Clearly any girl who dares to reject the advances of a carousing misogynist must. At this point, it’s not even the chanting that’s humiliating me. It’s the silence behind it. Nobody looks up from their iPhones – which, last time I checked folks, don’t actually work when you’re underground. “You’re so stuck up, you’d take it definitely up the arse” one man summarises frankly, as the
OUT” – no doubt anticipating an exciting evening of the unapologetic belittling of many, many more women. I want to be relieved, it’s over. But in truth I feel pathetic. The silence of the entire carriage speaks volumes more than those 10 men did. It’s palpable. Solitude is valued over standing up and actually saying something.
I wish that I could say this is a solitary encounter. That it is in some way unusual. A unique incident. It is not. And after an appropriate time spent staring at my knees, I glance up into the reflective glass to see a pathetic, stuck up, 7/10 staring back at me.
IMAGE CREDIT: FOTO_MICHEL
train eventually reaches their stop. As he started it, it only seems fair that the original marauding, misogynistic lunatic should finish the whole hideous episode – this time with a brand new insult “you’re only a 7 out of 10 love”. They trample off the train. Victorious and chanting “LADS NIGHT OUT, LADS NIGHT
Vile men 1: Feminism 0.
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The Women Force OVER THE YEARS, WE’VE SEEN STRONG AND POWERFUL WOMEN RAISE THEIR VOICES AND CHALLENGE SOCIETAL EXPECTATIONS OF WOMEN. IT’S TIME TO CELEBRATE THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS AND WELCOME THE FUTURE GAME-CHANGERS. WORDS: HON JIUN WONG
IMAGE CREDIT: STEFANO CORSO
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he brought feminism to the masses after quoting Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche’s TEDxEuston speech in her selftitled fifth album: “...We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. Feminist: the person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. While her feminist status has been thrown into dispute from all kinds of people, there’s no denying the fact that she’s one powerful women. She runs her own production company, is one-half of the world’s richest celebrity couples, has been at the top of her game for more than 20 years, and she is an unapologetic, self-driven, intelligent and creative business woman. She’s the very definition of a modern-day feminist.
n June 1963, a young Soviet woman became the first woman to travel into space. After 48 orbits and 71 hours, Valentina Tereshkova returned to earth and was honoured as the Hero of the Soviet Union. Tereshkova was born in Maslennikovo, Russia in 1937 and started work at a textile factory at the age of 18. From there, she joined the Yaroslavi Air Sports Club and became a skilled amateur parachutist, catching the attention of the Russian space program. She was one out of four women to be trained for a special woman-in-space program, and was the only one to complete a space mission.
he’s become an international symbol of peaceful resistance in the face of oppression, joining the likes of Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr. The daughter of Aung San, Father of modern-day Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi originally returned to Burma to nurse her dying mother but was swept up in the midst of the nation’s major political upheaval. She organised rallies and campaigned all over the country, calling for peaceful democratic reform and free elections. She was placed under house arrest twice and missed out on seeing her two sons grow up and saying good-bye to her husband, Michael Aris. Aung San Suu Kyi, throughout the years of hardships, remained a steadfast symbol of hope and peace for Burma and for the rest of the world. The ultimate Lady.
IMAGE CREDIT: TONY DURAN FOR PARKWOOD PICTURES ENTERTAINMENT LLC / ALEXANDER MOKLETSOV / IFAQEER / HTOO TAY ZAR /
he first democratically-elected female leader of a Muslim country, Benazir Bhutto championed human and women’s rights and industrialised Pakistan. Bhutto was elected twice as prime minister of Pakistan and soon became a symbol of female empowerment for the Muslim world. She opposed misogynistic interpretations of Islam and advocated for the empowerment of women through education, employment and “population control”. In 1999, she spoke at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Woman, saying, “In distinguishing between Islamic teachings and social taboos, we must remember that Islam forbids injustice - injustice against people, against nation, against women.” While her legacy may be tainted by allegations of corruption, her support for the Taliban and her failure to weaken Hudood ordinances, Benazir Bhutto was a brave woman who was taken away from the world far too early.
Aung San Suu Kyi
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ith experiences in drugs and alcohol abuse and with self-destructive relationship, Ms Holiday isn’t a typical role model for modern-day females. However, Billie’s music and life is a unfortunate but accurate representation of midcentury American troubles: racism, sexism, substance abuse, abuse against women, loneliness, etc. She took her troubles and put them into songs, creating songs like the classic Strange Fruit, which was written about violence against Black people. Much like Maya Angelou, Billie was defiant against her personal hardships and has remained an inspirational force for musicians and vocalists to express their lives through the power of music.
orn Marguerite Ann John sexual abuse and rape at a the age of eight to thirtee she explored the writings of Sh Edgar Allen Poe. She worked clo King Jr. and became a nothern Christian Leadership Conference the civil rights movement of the groundbreaking autobiography Sings, and it was through that a she told the shared experiences over the world. Maya Angelou’s and her songs, along with her pa beings will be missed for years to
he sparked the civil rights movement in the United States with her steadfast refusal to give up her seat to a white man on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. While her bravery led to a conviction for violating segregation laws, Rosa became the recognised Mother of the Civil Rights Movement, and lent her support to several civil-rights events and causes. She wrote in her autobiography: “I was not tired physically...the only tired I was, was tired of giving in”. With that statement, she embodies the trait that women should take to heart: a refusal to give in to societal expectations and uncompromising tradition.
IMAGE CREDIT: YORK COLLEGE ISLGP / CARL VAN VECHTEN / NATIONAL ARCHIVES AND RECORDS ADMINISTRATION RECORDS OF THE U.S. INFORMATION AGENCY RECORD GROUP 306 /
nson in 1928, Maya experienced a young age and was mute from en. During her years of silence, hakespeare, Charles Dickens and osely together with Martin Luther n co-ordinator for the Southern e, a movement crucial to elevating e 1960s. In 1969, she wrote her I Know Why The Caged Bird and her subsequent writings that s of pained men and women all spirit to overcome her hardships assions for life and fellow human o come.
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anked as the most significant First Lady and the most influential American woman of the 20th century, Eleanor Roosevelt throughout her years was steadfastly dedicated to expanding roles for women in the workplace and the establishment of human rights. Not only did she chair the United Nations Commission on Human Rights but Eleanor chaired the Democratic National Committee’s platform on women’s issues where she lobbied the convention to allow women appoint women delegates and alternates. As husband to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, she pushed him on civil rights, labour rights, women’s rights and she believed that women had qualities that made them good peacemakers and mothers, but that those qualities made women fine politicians, advocates and professionals. In a letter she sent to a young African-American boy in the 1950s who was beaten up in school, Eleanor wrote: “Courage is more exhilarating than fear and in the long run it is easier. We do not have to become heroes overnight. Just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it is not as dreadful as it appeared, discovering we have the strength to stare it down.”
ounder of the Green Belt Movemen environmental non-governmental organis focused on the planting of trees, environm conservation and women’s rights, Wangari Ma in 2004 became the first African woman to re the Nobel Peace Prize. Wangari worked with communities to increase access to land, fire and clean water outside the forest regions, an was never afraid to voice her thoughts in a dominated world. She once said, “African wom general need to know that it’s okay for them to b way they are - to see the way they are as a stre and to be liberated from fear and from silence.
wonderful gifted novelist and essayist, Zadie Smith was not satisfied with the belief that having more than one child wouldn’t be conducive to a woman’s writing career: “I have two children. Dickens had 10 - I think Tolstoy did, too. Did anyone for a moment worry that those men were becoming too father-ish to be writer-esque?” While Zadie’s works don’t always explore feminine ideas or feature female protagonists, her work has bridged the gender gap in the realm of literary fiction. Her resilient spirit became more apparent when she wrote two more critically acclaimed, award-winning novels after her less praised sophomore novel Autograph Man. She told the Evening Standard in 2013: “If there are 15-year-old girls out there who look at the Women’s Prize and realise it’s totally possible, I don’t see what’s wrong with that.”
n the late 19th and early 20th century, Emmeline fought along with her husband for the rights of the woman, and she was repeatedly imprisoned for using violent tactics in her campaign for gender equality. She formed The Woman’s Social and Political Union, which became the force in Britain that campaigned for Women’s suffrage (the right to vote). Sadly, she passed away just 18 days before parliament passed the Representatives of the People Act 1928, which gave women equal votes with men. By not fitting to societal roles of wife and mother, Emmeline paved the way for future feminists who felt upset with society’s expectations of women.
IMAGE CREDIT: UNITED STATES LIBRARY OF CONGRESS / AGÊNCIA BRASIL /
nt, an sation mental aathai eceive h rural ewood nd she malemen in be the ength, .”
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ften called Hollywood’s funniest female comedian, Ellen’s story is one of many ups and downs, however, but it is also one that is about being honest about yourself. Her decision to come out resulted in her sitcom being cancelled, and it was only until 2003 that she successfully returned to television with her talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Ellen has overcame adversity, homophobia, and a tough upbringing to become a household name and she’s done it all without compromising herself and her integrity. She embodies the statement: “There’s nothing wrong with being yourself”.
eing the President of the Indian National Congress and leader of the United Progressive Alliance leaves a lot of responsibility on Sonia Gandhi’s shoulders. Sonia turned down the chance to lead the nation as Prime Minister of India, and instead chose to remain in the nation’s legislature. Her popularity and status as a leader is evidence that women can overcome prejudices of gender roles, religion, and ethnicity. Her decision to abstain from becoming Prime Minister is a clear example of a woman who chose to work for the good of the nation rather than for her own political ambition.
melia was the first woman to every fly solo across the Atlantic in 1932 and the first woman pilot in the world after flying solo from Hawaii to California. She put her career ambitions and love for her flying before her relationships, and used her fame to encourage other female pilots as well. As the first woman pilot, Amelia demonstrated that women were just as capable as men at handling physically challenging work and she always strived to do more, to set higher and harder goals, and to actually achieve them. Unfortunately, when she embarked on her lifelong dream to fly across the world in 1937, her flight went pissing and she was never seen again.
IMAGE CREDIT: ALAN LIGHT / RICARDO STUCKERT / DOMINICK D / UNITED STATES LIBRARY OF CONGRESS’S PRINTS AND PHOTOGRAPHS
he breakout transgender star of the hit Netflix series, Orange Is The New Black, Laverne has come a long way from her days of being bullied and confused about her identity. She was the first transperson ever to grace Time’s magazine cover and her presence in mainstream media has sparked dialogue over transgender people, a topic that was previously lacking discussion. Laverne told Dame Magazine in 2014, that she believes that one is not born a woman, but rather becomes one and that feminism is about “moving outside of roles and moving outside of expectations of who and what you’re supposed to be to live a more authentic life”.
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WORDS: PIPPA ALL
IMAGE CREDIT: SERGEANT TOM ROBINSON RLC
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As election apathy sweeps the land, the leaders of the three main political parties are once again forced to try and appear human. Luckily all three have successful, intelligent and – most important of all in an election campaign – photogenic wives. Women who are prepared to be wheeled out for photo opportunities, sometimes even bringing along a cute kid or two to really drive the message home.
But behind the gracious applause, party colour-appropriate outfits and the ability not to drift off at conferences, who are these women? As Parliament remains ever dominated by men, who are these political WAGs [wife and/or girlfriend] and what is it that they do?
amantha Cameron is often seen as the most conventional political WAG. Of the three women, she is the only one who has taken her husband’s surname in her professional life. She is also the only one to have moved back from a successful career in order to facilitate her husband’s job, stepping down as creative director at Smythson’s when David became prime minister. (“But!” I hear you cry, “SamCam has a dolphin tattoo on her foot! A real tattoo! That’s pretty cool and nonconformist and out there, she’s too wild to be conventional!”) Terrible tattoo choices aside, there is certainly more to Samantha Cameron than meets the eye. Her father, for example, was Sir Reginald Sheffield, 8th Baronet, and she spent her childhood on the family’s 300 acre estate of Normanby Hall in Lincolnshire – once famously claiming to have grown up “near Scunthorpe”. She is descended from King
Charles II, a distant cousin of Smythson’s, for those who are the late Princess Diana, and unfamiliar with it, is a luxury after her parent’s divorce, brand which sells stationery, leather and fashion products, and is famous for its £2,000 python skin handbags. It is also famous for being based in a tax haven: owned through a company in Luxembourg and linked to a supposedly ‘secretive trust’ in Guernsey (but don’t tell Dave). Samantha still works there in a consultancy role and serves as an ambassador for the British Fashion Council. But is there more to SamCam than pretty dresses and being terribly posh? Certainly, she’s done a lot of admirable charity work, particularly with children’s charities. The media got very excited her mother married William a few months ago with David’s Waldorf Astor, 4th Viscount ‘revelation’ that he occasionally Astor and a minister in John lets her pay for their date nights Major’s government. – although actually, what he Despite an incredibly really said was that he tries not privileged upbringing, Samantha to forget his wallet, and even worked hard in her career, if he does, they have a shared winning a British Glamour bank account anyway. The Magazine Award in 2009 for Pankhurst’s would be proud. Best Accessory Designer.
ustine Thornton married Ed Miliband in 2011, after having two children with him. Formerly a child actress, she is now a very successful environmental barrister: Ed once joked that he was the third most important thing in her life, after their sons and her legal career.
All they knew about me was a dress I wore to Ed’s speech, and I thought I really wanted to reassure people that I am in fact more than a dress.
However, she seems to be less of a fan of SamCam, remarking once that she made herself speak at a Labour Party Conference because she was concerned that “all they knew about me was a dress I wore to Ed’s speech, and I thought I really wanted to reassure people that I am in fact more than a dress”. Bet she doesn’t have a python skin handbag, either. Although I can’t say who foots the bill in restaurants, Justine hit the headlines at the start of March when she spoke of her concern that her husband will be subject to “really vicious” attacks from the Conservatives in the upcoming campaign, but insisted that she was “up for this fight”.
IMAGE CREDIT: NCVO LONDON & ANNACRIEFF / ANTHONY MCKEOWN / LAWRENCE JACKSON, WHITE HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER - PD-USGOV
And joke he might – Justine works for Thirty Nine Essex Street, one of the top chambers in the country, and is believed to earn considerably more than her husband.
While Ed supposedly calls her his ‘best counsel’ – albeit possibly to win over any female voters who managed to escape that pesky pink bus – Justine recently gave a talk to girls in a London school, telling them to demand that their fathers and partners support their careers, and to make sure there would be more ‘political husbands’ in the future. Although called an ‘alien’ and ‘Spock’ by Sarah Vine - a Daily Mail journalist who just happens to be married to Michael Gove - Justine has an unlikely best friend in the form of Frances Osborne. She met Frances, wife of George, when she was first called to the bar after graduating, and the pair even went backpacking around South America together.
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Miriam Gonzalez Durantez
motherhood with a high pressure job, and she questioned why no one ever asks her husband the same thing: “I always get very surprised when I am asked this question because, you know, I have three children, I have a busy career and I have a busy
they need to see that taking responsibility for your children does not “affect your level of testosterone”, and that “those men who actually treat women as equals are the ones with more cojones” (the look on Nick’s face when he heard the word “cojones” was priceless). Rumours that Miriam is the power behind the throne surfaced when reports claimed that she was the one that insisted Nick was tougher against Lord Rennard, following a string of sexual harassment allegations against him, although both deny this. Miriam also launched an ‘Inspiring Women’ campaign, which involves successful women giving talks to school girls about reaching their full potential. And, if that wasn’t enough, husband. Yet my husband has she also used to teach flamenco three children, he has a much dancing. So admired is the multi busier career than I have, and he talented Miriam that Nick has has a busy wife.” been forced to insist that he Indeed, gender equality is doesn’t try to use her popularity high on Miriam’s list. She once to boost his own, although at interrupted a Q&A session that this stage it might be worth Nick was giving in order to suggesting that he does. ask her own question, urging her husband to tell men that
Those men who actually treat women as equals are the ones with more cojones.
While there is still a deplorable lack of women in positions of political power, it is at least reassuring that the political WAGs are intelligent, capable women in their own rights (yes, even you Sam). But
maybe if they were allowed to spend a little less time posing with their husbands and children, and a little less time applauding other people, and instead could spend a little more time talking about themselves
and what they want for the women of this country, it would make them – and by extension, their husbands – seem that little bit more human.
IMAGE CREDIT: OFFICE OF NICK CLEGG
iriam, wife of Nick Clegg, is a Spanish native who speaks three languages, and who has never taken British citizenship so she won’t be able to vote for her husband in the election (which is a shame, as poor old Nick really needs every vote he can get). They have three sons called Antonio, Alberto and Miguel. She apparently insisted on giving them Spanish names if they were to be subjected to the surname ‘Clegg’. Unlike the other political WAGs, she has never agreed to family portraits to boost Nick’s image – she told a reporter “I am like a tigress when it comes to my children”. Miriam is a successful corporate lawyer, specialising in international trade regulations and rumoured to be paid incredibly well for it. During the 2010 election she played a smaller role than Samantha Cameron and Sarah Brown because she was unable to take the time off work. In 2011, Grazia magazine asked Miriam how she combines
IMAGE CREDIT: REMY STEINEGGER
Beating Breast Cancer WORDS: GRACE WITHERDEN
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course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy and that was the end of that until November this year when she found another lump. There is nothing worse than being told by your mother her breast cancer has returned on a four-hour trip to Birmingham. Luckily she had a successful operation to remove the lump this January and soon after she started her radiotherapy. She is not the only relative in my family to have cancer. My Grandma also suffered from I know my children will never have to say: breast cancer and died from liver cancer. My great aunt also ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer’. died from cancer last year. I am very aware that I may be a inherits a damaged copy of this mastectomy on her right breast. carrier of this gene and although gene from one of their parents After her operation, she had a that terrifies me, what terrifies me more is that thousands and this means their chance of women over the country of developing breast cancer is are aware of this, and do not higher than usual. regularly check their breasts. The average woman in the UK It doesn’t take longer than 5 has a 12.5% chance of developing minutes and more importantly breast cancer at some point it could save your life. If breast in her life, however a female cancer is detected in the early BRCA1 carrier has between a 60 stages there is 99% survival and 90% chance of developing rate. Once the cancer spreads to breast cancer. Angelina was told distant organs, this survival rate she had an 87% chance. drops to just 24%. So in 2013 Angelina decided I can’t stress enough how to have a double mastectomy to important it is for ladies to reduce her chances. check their breasts. It’s time to This is not unusual. In fact, get checking your boobs, ladies! many celebrities have had this surgery - Sharon Osbourne, and more recently radio 1 DJ Claira Hermet. n a normal weekday morning, my alarm woke me up and I followed my usual routine. First I checked my emails, then Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Timehop, Snapchat, you get the idea. However, on this day when I went on BBC News, and found out that Angelina Jolie had her ovaries removed, this hit a terrifying nerve for me… Angelina Jolie is a carrier of the gene BRCA1, aka the cancer gene. The general statistics are that about 1 in 1000 people
Although this did decrease her risk of developing cancer, the news broke that not only had Angelina Jolie had her ovaries removed but also her fallopian tubes. She told the press that one of her main reasons for undergoing this surgery was her children, “I know my children will never have to say: ‘Mom died of ovarian cancer’.” The reason this story hit such a nerve for me was because when I was younger, my Mum had a
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Is It Now Fashionable To Be A Feminist? WORDS: GRACE WITHERDEN
have heard from friends who have been mocked for their beliefs, particularly in declaring themselves a ‘feminist’. I am not in the slightest way saying that ‘feminism’ is something that should go in and out of fashion like last season’s Prada. It should not be something that features on a monthly ‘hot’ list. But the fact of the matter is that 5 years ago, there were half the amount of celebrity feminists in the mass media than there are today. Gemma Arterton said in a recent interview: ““Feminism is in fashion, as made by Beyoncé and Taylor Swift. Now that they’re feminists, everyone else is.” But is this necessarily a bad thing? Personally, I think it’s great to have more role models in our society. Whether or not it is ‘fashionable’, you can’t deny that it gets people talking and it engages people on a more powerful level than ever before. But here comes the problem. If feminism, is deemed ‘fashionable’ and ‘on trend’, then surely we’re just waiting for it to fizzle out. If we accept this concept, then we accept that feminism is not ongoing and is not a continuous movement,
but instead something that has currently grasped our attention, until next season, when the next ‘ism’ comes along. Another issue is the celebrities themselves. How much can a white, multi-millionaire, award-winning actress relate to the everyday woman? How can these celebrities relate to the wider issues of feminism that go beyond equal pay? Gay rights, domestic violence, poverty, fat shaming and racism are just the tip of the iceberg. So is feminism fashionable? At the minute, currently, yes. Yes it is. But is this a bad thing? No. Not necessarily. Spreading awareness of the movement and encouraging women to feel empowered can never be a bad thing. However, I can’t help but wonder, where feminism will be in the next 5 years. Hopefully it won’t exist, and not because it’s not in ‘fashion’, nut because gender equality has been reached, and there is no longer a need for women to strive for equal rights. Until then, let’s let the Beyoncé, Taylor Swifts and Emma Watsons of the world take the stage.
IMAGE CREDIT: RYAN MGUIRE
or years, there was a stigma that feminism was a dirty word. Celebrities proclaimed they were not feminists. Kaley Cuoco, amongst others, proudly said, “I’m not a feminist and I love feeling like a housewife.” With role models like these, the word ‘feminist’ has had its challenges. But now it seems that feminism is almost fashionable… During this year 87th Annual Academy Awards, actress Patricia Arquette delivered a powerful call for gender equality and equal pay. Emma Watson, adored not only amongst males but females worldwide, delivered her HeForShe speech at the United Nations after she was appointed UN Women Goodwill Ambassador in July 2014. And lastly Beyoncé, a woman who oozes with sex appeal, embraced her strong powerful independence and her maternal side at the same time. I am a feminist. I will always be a feminist because I believe in equal rights for both sexes. I am fortunate enough to have grown up in a community where I have never felt it was ‘uncool’ to be a feminist. I have never felt ashamed in what I believe is right. However, I
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The Virgin Mary and Feminism IMAGE CREDIT: SVENNEVENN
WORDS: PRISCILLA ACUNA
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sleep with a statuette of the Virgin Mary on my night table. She is beautiful, all of five inches tall in faded plastic, wearing blue and white robes with two green snakes crushed beneath her feet. She has been passed down in my family for the past three generations, and despite not being a practicing Catholic, I plan to pass her down to my children as well. Especially if I have a daughter. And yet I would never want any daughter of mine to internalize the values that I see the Virgin Mary to represent. Certainly, she is good and kind, but she is also obedience, submission. Sexual purity. Virginity. Some cultural context: the presence of the Virgin Mary is a hallmark of the Roman Catholic church. Although she is acknowledged throughout Christianity, she is only divine in Catholicism. She is the mother of Jesus, the woman chosen by God to bear his son here on earth. One day, she was minding her own business when the Angel Gabriel appeared to inform her that she would now, by order of God, be a mother. She was a virgin, yet somehow pregnant. This is the story of what Catholics call “the Immaculate Conception. Since then, the story goes, she has appeared in brief visions to the innocent, the good and the helpless. That’s why you might be familiar with a range of different illustrations of the Virgin Mary; it’s her apparition in many different settings. I love her, but I also resent her. Growing up in a Catholic, Latin
American immigrant home, I’ve come to associate her with warmth, family and comfort. Yet for the past few years of my early feminist consciousness, my feelings towards her have grown decidedly ambivalent. I love her, but she has hurt me and all of my predecessors, as far back as my post-colonial ancestors and as close to home as my parents and grandparents today. Especially the daughters. To be clear, the Virgin Mary herself isn’t really to blame; neither is Eve, nor any of the
Two words: Marianismo and machismo. Most people I’ve met are more familiar with the latter, but as the saying goes, they are two sides of the same coin. Machismo is where oppressive standards of masculinity take on their delicious Latin American flavor. It’s a set of unwritten, socially prescribed roles for men: real men don’t cry. They are stoic in the face of emotion. They are tough, burly, and physically vigourous. They work all day in the fields and return home to be served dinner by their wives.
To blame them for the harm they’ve caused throughout the generations would be to fall into cultural patterns of blaming women for all that is wrong in the world.
ladies of Christianity that are so well-remembered today. In fact, to blame them for the harm they’ve caused throughout the generations would be to fall into cultural patterns of blaming women for all that is wrong in the world (see: Eve, Pandora’s box). No, these figures are the product of a patriarchal order that is deeply hurtful to all individuals, however that destruction has manifested across different cultures and nations. Let me tell you a bit about how the Virgin Mary, as a medium of patriarchy, has hurt my family within the cultural context of Latin America.
They are the breadwinners, decision makers, and seldom engage with children. Machismo happens when there are favorites among your children: who gets to stay in school? Who is sooner rushed to the doctor? Who gets the biggest plate of food in a household where meals are scarce? Perhaps machismo sounds no different from your typical brand of rural sexism. And in many ways, it is. Machismo is sexism with all the fixtures of the tiny Latin American hamlet; the rural, agricultural descendants of the indigenous. My roots. But the element that specifically characterizes machismo as a beast of its own
is its relationship to the lesserknown marianismo. If machismo centers around prescriptive roles for males, marianismo is like a set of predetermined roles for women. A keen observer might notice that this word begins with “Maria,” Spanish for Mary. That’s because marianismo
Why is this beacon of holy womanliness, the most prominent woman in the world’s largest religion, defined by her sexual behavior?
Service with a smile; acceptance, obedience and submission to their role. The only accolade they may expect: hija, que buena eres. My daughter, how good you are. Goodness: the supreme praise accorded to a hardworking woman. The defining
characteristic of the Virgin Mary. Marianismo is called just that because it implies that, like Mother Mary, a woman is called to be a servant in the higher order of things, and she must do so with grace. Although men, in the traditional rural setting, are called to make their own sacrifices, at the very least they are accorded a voice and decision-making power. And they can enjoy sex.
IMAGE CREDIT: LAWRENCE OP
happens when Latin American women emulate the mother of God. I speak from personal observation. In rural Costa Rica, past and present, women from the most traditional homes are expected to wait on the entire family: cooking, cleaning, taking care of children and the elderly. This is the expected order. When the family eats, women spend the meal filling the plates and clearing the dishes
of everyone else, then eat by themselves in the kitchen. Women are expected to service, even when the rest of the family is at leisure. The work of the home is never-ending; a woman cannot simply leave the fields. And they must work with goodwill.
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J MAGAZINE | ISSUE 2 | THE WOMEN ISSUE | 56 My biggest qualm with the Virgin Mary: she is called exactly that. The Virgin Mary. I’m stunned by the level of harm that this has caused colonized women throughout the ages. Why? Why is this beacon of holy womanliness, the most prominent woman in the world’s largest religion, defined by her sexual behavior? —or more importantly, why is she defined by her lack thereof?
engaged in that particular degree of closeness with another person? Maybe the idea of virginity is an acknowledgment that being sexual with another person is a fundamental part of the human experience—if that happens to suit you. And why should it be any business of mine if it has or has not? To equate virginity with the sacred feminine is to
To equate virginity with the sacred feminine is to deny women of sexual self-determination
My personally held belief of virginity is one where I see it as a bullshit concept. A social construct to which society has ascribed moral significance. Conventionally, a virgin is someone who has never had penile-vaginal sex, but this accepted definition is deeply problematic. What is sex, even? In my view, sex is anytime you are naked with another person or persons, trying to make each other orgasm. P-V intercourse is an arbitrary benchmark of intimacy. Why, for instance, could it be construed as more intimate than oral sex, the act of placing a partner’s most intimate parts in your mouth? Even its procreative power is no longer so with the advent of birth control. Not to mention its intrinsic heterosexism. Why must sex involve different forms of genitalia to count? Is a woman who is deeply intimate with other woman still a virgin? The only way that I have come to personally make sense of this absurd concept is to see it as, perhaps, a signifier of life experience. Has an individual
deny women of sexual selfdetermination: sex on your own terms, inside or outside of marriage, with men or women or people of any other gender identity; safe, consensual, and in your control. I am disappointed in the Virgin Mary, but that disappointment is merely at the surface of a deeper issue. As a Latina feminist who was raised Catholic, I am disappointment in my family’s faith: a religion centered around the deeds of a male messiah, a God who is gendered as male, where the one woman of prominence is defined by her a) virginity and b) the fact that she birthed a son. I refuse to believe that there can be such a male-centric order in any divine truth of the universe. And yet, Mother Mary is beautiful. She is not unproblematic, but she is home. She is love. She is family. As free as I can help her to become from the violence of a patriarchal society, my daughter will also sleep with the Lady at her bedside.
IMAGE CREDIT: GZOOH
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Men Are Fem
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y first encounter own skin through feminism. The Feminism is actively fighting with feminism norm for boys is to be masculine against this ideal. You may say was a simple and often times it means being “but there’s that other movement post on Tumblr stoic, violent, and dominating. by men for men: menimism!” I stumbled upon when I was This comes at a cost of being If we look at the roots of the looking for gifs of my favourite compassionate, caring, and being movement, it began as satire video games. It’s a space that more sensitive. The latter traits by Twitter user Ti Balogun. has a lot more female users and are considered feminine and #MenimistTwtter was used to it just so happened that many of society does not reward anyone parody and mock feminists. the people I follow on Tumblr for being feminine. Feminism Most of the tweets from that are female gamers, a group addresses the expectations set movement were related to many people think do not exist. on all genders and attempts to romantic relationships or just They are there; writing abolish them. However with really tedious things like one stories, creating gifs, and editing that said, this conversation user who tweeted “why can’t screenshots. I cannot remember should not centre on me, a man. she open the door for me?” The what the post was about anymore There are perks to fitting into frustrations that were vented but it really got me thinking. that box of masculinity. Men are are so trivial when you compare That post on feminism put into rewarded for displaying such it to more pressing matters. words what I had felt for some behaviour and the ones who lose In the UK, one in five women time. Over time, I read more are females. has experienced sexual violence and more on the matter. I’m not Something all females are and that doesn’t include cases sure if it was a rising trend or if too familiar with is street that weren’t reported. Look it was just my at your circle Catcalling is not about “saying hi” human brain of friends and or “complementing the girls”. It is recognising family, there’s patterns. But an unfortunate simply a show of power, an assertion of whatever it was, high chance that dominance. it was a good they have been a thing. harassment. Even in a victim before. As I was exposed to it over supposedly public domain, there Women are still paid less than time, feminism just made sense. seems to be no space for them. men. On average, women earn I realised that there were a lot of Catcalling is not about “saying about 28 per cent less. If you just things that I was doing and saying hi” or “complementing the girls”. think about it, there’s a reason that hurt the people around It is simply a show of power, why women still aren’t paying me. People I cared about. But an assertion of dominance. All for dates today. If we look in the then again, I didn’t have to care spaces should and must belong past, we would understand the about them to want to support to males and everyone else is context behind this: a history feminism. It was unintentional considered temporary occupants of where women weren’t even but it was still necessary to own of that space. This also ties allowed to work. up to it. The f-bomb angers and in with the objectification of I have questions for selffrustrates a lot of people though women. Surely no one would proclaimed menimists and by it is a very simple concept. If you catcall someone they viewed that extent to the Men’s Right believe in gender equality, then as a human being. Women are Activists (MRAs): are you truly you are a feminist. It’s as simple often forced to just take it as it interested in helping males? Are as that. is, retaliation can have very dire you fighting for disenfranchised The act of being a feminist consequences. In Detroit, Mary males from the LGBTQA+ however, is not as simple. I Spears was killed for refusing community? Are you fighting continue to learn more and more an unknown man’s advances. for more representation of these about feminism each day. Aside The idea of masculinity is toxic men and those that are non-white from getting better at becoming and poisonous. It spares no one in the media? Do you really care a decent human being, I have and hurts everyone. We need to about male survivors of sexual learned to be comfortable in my banish this concept. violence or are you just using
them as a straw man argument? The menimism movement has no interest in helping these men but seems keen to offend females and trivialise their experiences. Feminism is not about hating men. I know we see some jokes that men take too seriously. The ‘male tears’ mug, anyone? There are legit problems with feminism, like how sometimes the movement only focuses on cis women and girls that are able-bodied. There are discussions and conversations within the feminist groups to make feminism even more inclusive and intersectional. “But what about the men?!” you ask. Yes we have to talk about us but not here, not now. If this movement was renamed “humanism” or “gender equality” as some have suggested, it takes away the important points from the movement. It shifts the focus from the very real and troubling issues that women and girls suffer on a daily basis because of men and hides the fact that men still do very sexist things and still reap benefits from the patriarchal society we live in.
What men must understand is that while this is a movement meant for females, it will also benefit males in the end. I still have really mixed feelings about
men are socially, institutionally, economically, and politically more powerful. Men need to take a step back and empower women and girls to speak and act for themselves. We need to The menimism listen to women and girls and not dismiss what they feel and movement has what they go through. Most of no interest in us will never truly be able to helping these men understand what they face daily but seems keen and that’s a blessing. It’s true that #NotAllMen are to offend females abusers or rapists but that sort of and trivialise their thinking gets us nowhere closer experiences. to true gender equality. We may not be the ones that have hearing men’s voices (including abused girls or women. We may my own) in this movement not be the ones who have killed because men’s voices are already female infants because males overrepresented. We men talk are preferred. Us men, however, too much and have an opinion still gain from this system that on everything! favours us. There are only 148 female MPs Men are an important part of and an overwhelming 502 male this movement. We must listen MPs. Statistics from the United and learn. Speak out when Nations also show that globally necessary but never speak over only 22 per cent of all national when a woman speaks. parliamentarians were female as We may not always be active of January 2015. perpetrators of sexism but we Women’s voices should always must pave the path to end it take priority in this movement. once and for all. Class, race, and sexuality aside,
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I Would Like T
bout Equality... WORDS: P.T. SOH
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ure, in many ways girls have less freedom than boys. More girls / women suffer domestic violence and sexual abuse compared to boys and males. There have been many instances where many women and I have been treated unfairly because of our sex by parents and by society. Some of us suffer the wrath of mothers who do not have good self-esteem and cannot separate their own needs from their daughter’s, which leads to many issues especially in terms of body image. Do a Google Scholar search using the phrase “daughter eating disorder and mothers” if you don’t believe me. Some women I know, when they were young, became the woman of the house as soon as their mother passed away or moved away after a divorce. They were tasked with taking care of the entire family’s wellbeing while making sure that they themselves got to school. Girls are supposed to have girl attributes and would be told off for not possessing them. If we’re flirtatious, we’re a slut. If we’re assertive, we’re called bossy or a bitch. If we are self assured and say what’s on our mind, we’re called “a man”. But what about boys? I think they experience the above too, but in their own way. What about the boys who get beaten more than their sisters, because “boys are more hardy and can be beaten”? What about the boys who are scolded and punished for crying because “boys do not cry”. The meaning of masculinity can sometimes be really skewed, which could lead men to subjugate women, each other and themselves. Men have gathered together to bully the one guy who they don’t think is
“man” enough. In terms of intelligence, there is a general misconception that boys are cleverer than girls. Looking at the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) test, a worldwide study done by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 15 year olds, subjects were tested on math, science and reading. The boys generally outperformed girls in maths, but were the main underperformers as well. Girls outperformed boys in math in 5 countries. In reading, girls generally outperformed the boys and girls were found to have lower selfbelief, which needs addressing in order for them to progress further. I think though, to move forward, we need to be equalists. Equality is a women’s issue as much as a men’s issue. I may speak more for women because females are certainly being discriminated against more. For example, it boggles my mind that in Islam, as wonderful a religion as it is, in theory supports women’s rights. However the practice of it by some of its followers can be awful. Women are allowed one husband and will be stoned to death if they commit adultery. A man can have four wives and will usually not get stoned to death. However, I will speak for men too. For example, I speak up for men who wear pink. It’s only a colour! I don’t think a woman should expect a man to lift anything that she could carry by herself, including her handbag. It’s important to celebrate and bear in mind those who are fighting for equality. We should draw inspiration from them and let that lift us up instead
of letting the naysayers and the seeming “everyday atrocities” bring us down. We have a tendency toward bad news and melancholy, something to do with evolutionary theory about the amygdala. But can we change that, could the current generation help change the amygdala’s setup? The homepage of the HeforShe solidarity movement, run by UN Women, echoes my thoughts – more men are joining in the fight for equal rights amongst men and women. I thank the Editor of this magazine for featuring a Women’s edition this month. Jack Ma, the owner of the billion-dollar e-commerce company Alibaba, explained that “one of the secret sauces for Alibaba’s success is that we have a lot of women”. Jackson Katz’s TedxFiDiWomen talk Violence against women – it’s a men’s issue attracted just over 1 million views. I go by Still I Rise and Phenomenal Woman by Maya Angelou. Maya Angelou is a role model of mine. What about Sheryl Sandberg and her Lean In campaign? Both men and women contribute to her campaign. Buzzfeed gets men and women to do role reversal videos, and they share their insights afterward. Their videos challenge the status quo. Their videos are short, fun, if not inspiring it is certainly eye opening. There are calls by government officials and companies to put more women in lead roles as having a balance of the sexes leads to more productivity. Studies on gender disparity in terms of pay and assessment of competence and leadership ability are, perhaps slowly, changing the way men and
If we’re flirtatious, we’re a slut. If we’re assertive, we’re called bossy or a bitch. If we are self assured and say what’s on our mind, we’re called “a man”.
I didn’t clip her wings.
women assess each other in the workplace. My own heroes in the country where my passport is issued include Marina Mahathir, Ivy Josiah, and everyone in the Women’s Aid Organisation. The world has Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani activist for female education and the youngest ever Nobel Laureate winner. She grew up in a Taliban occupied area in Pakistan, and was once shot by them for going to school, but kept going anyway. Her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, delivered a TEDTalk called Malala, My Daughter. The phrase that really got to me was: “Because I didn’t clip her wings”. Consider the public outrage by both men and women in India and calls for changes in legislation due to the 2012 Delhi rape. As a further facet to the Delhi rape, in BBC’s documentary Indian Daughter, the victim, Jyoti Singh Pandey, had parents who believed in equality, which led her to become a medical student? When I was a teenager, it was my own father who negotiated with my mother to look past gender roles and allow me to go for drum lessons and go skateboarding. Can you think of someone, anyone, whether they are a public figure or your acquaintance, who have stood up for a woman’s or man’s issue? Both men and women can learn lessons from each other to be more productive and better human beings. We are at an introspective age where we need to take a good hard look at ourselves, become more aware of gender issues, while knowing that we are making a better world. Let’s keep fighting the good fight.
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A Timeline of Wo Right to Vote
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WORDS: FEDERICA DE CARIA
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Albania Czech Republic Slovakia United States of America
Denmark Iceland Lithuania
Azerbaijan Estonia Hungary Kyrgyzstan Latvia Poland Russian Federation
Tajikistan Mongolia Kazakhstan Ecuador Romania
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Turkey South Africa
Panama Domenican Republic
Chile Portugal Spain Sri Lanka
Bulgaria Jamaica France
Brazil Maldives Thailand Uruguay Myanmar
Croatia Slovenia Indonesia Italy Senegal Togo Japan
Barbados Haiti India
Lebanon Saint Lucia Antigua and Barbuda Dominica Grenada Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Vincents and the Grenadines Nepal
Cyprus Gambia Tonga
Bahamas Burundi Malawi Paraguay Mauritania Rwanda Sierra Leone
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Angola Capo Verde Mozambique Sao Tome and Principe Vanuatu
Jordan Solomon Islands
Liechtenstein Central African Republic
*United Arab Emirates In the UAE the right to vote is limited both for women and men
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