Wednesday, 6 August 2014

In Response to 'Women Against Feminism'

As you might already know, there has been a lot of hype recently about a tumblr blog called 'Women Against Feminism' - a page dedicated to women submitting pictures of themselves with a message that states why they feel that they don't need feminism. Many of the women talk about equality and that no gender is superior, which is true and something that I completely agree with, but those messages start how all the others do: with the words "I don't need feminism because..". If the mainstream assumption of what feminism actually is was accurate, some of those submissions would be making good points.

Feminism seems to have become a bit of a dirty word in society. The false stigma attached can cause an instant blocking or recoiling effect in someone when the word comes up in conversation. A common misconception is that feminism means the belief in female 
superiority; that feminists hate men, oppress men, believe they are inferior. I'm not saying there aren't feminists who believe that, who fit the bad stereotypes. But in every belief, you will find people who are radicals and extremists, people who misinterpreted the roots of the labels they gave themselves. I hate sexism - from and towards both men and women, and I get equally outraged at misandry as I do misogyny. I know that men have issues thanks to sexism too, and I even think that some feminists (who got the wrong idea) are the reason for some of it.

Feminism is essentially the endorsement of women's rights. One definition, from the Oxford Dictionary, is: "the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes." An excellent summary, but it's still only skeletal. As a feminist, I can take the bones of it and elaborate on that in my own way; building, adding, shaping with my own experiences and observations. This may seem odd, but I think it's important to not base your idea of feminism off feminists. A feminist is someone who supports feminism, but being a feminist does not come with a rulebook. 'Feminist' is a label that anyone can claim; you don't have to have any special experiences, no biological, professional or academic qualifications. Anyone can call themselves a feminist. Anyone can be a feminist. But one individual feminist does not define feminism as a whole and thus does not represent all feminists.  

This was one of my main problems with 'Women Against Feminism': the misunderstanding and misuse of the word 'feminism'. Something that also struck me was how oblivious they were to the fact that feminism is a part of the reason they can vote, get an education, have the job of their choice and be paid the same amount as men in the same field (although that still isn't always the case), decide if and when they want a family...among many other things. It's great that these women can say "I do not feel oppressed" - that's really, really fantastic, but it's also thanks to the feminists (both male and female) of the past who fought for women's rights.

We still need feminism - globally. It seemed so ignorant to me that (most of) the Women Against Feminism started their statements with "I" - how incredibly inconsiderate to shun something doing so much good and helping so many people just because
they don't feel they need it. Even if I never had any reason to feel like I needed feminism, it doesn't mean I shouldn't be a feminist and it doesn't mean other women don't need it. Because they do.

In some countries women aren't allowed to drive, women don't get education, they can't wear what they want, they are forced into marriage when they are children, women are victims of femicide, acid throwing and rape every day. We need feminism even in (
comparatively) developed countries. Feminism is needed all around the world, and while it is, there will be feminists fighting for women's rights and making change, regardless of stereotypes, jokes and pages like 'Women Against Feminism' trying to bring them down.

Feminism is something I am very passionate about - it is just one specific part of my beliefs in equality and human rights. I will probably write more on this subject in the future and elaborate on what feminism means to me, why I'm a feminist, etc. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this post. Also, if you're interested, Confused Cats Against Feminism is an excellent parody of 'Women Against Feminism'.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

The ones that got away















All shots above were either taken by me, my god-sister or my sister, and the photos are of us too. 

I have several reasons for not posting for over a month, which include: two faulty computers, a broken camera battery charger, my sister visiting (she has moved 5 hours away from me - boo), and unfortunately my creativity seems to have gone on holiday (I'm having dreams about really mundane things such as grocery shopping - what a waste).
I often feel a little bit stressed if I haven't posted for a while, as this blog feels a little bit like my rabbit hole sometimes. So this just a quick post to finally have something new! The pictures are all (sans a couple) 'ones that got away' from a few blog shoots, or otherwise photos from shoots that never even appeared on the blog. Some of the photos even date back to when I was twelve. As always, the clothes are hand-me-downs, charity shopped and vintage.

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Light




















Light is a glorious thing. Glorious in the way it shows colours, in the fact that I wouldn't have any pictures to show you if not for it - many things would cease to exist without light. The right light can make the mundane and ordinary transform into something utterly spectacular, giving the illusion of something magical. It can shine through water and make a droplet look like it contains an entire star nebula in its sphere.
It's incredibly fitting that we use variations of the word 'light' to describe people. How we can shine, glow, radiate and illuminate. How someone can bring out the best (or the 'light') in others much like the way the sun illuminates the intricate veins of a leaf or the strands of a spider web. 

Experimenting with light - particularly sunlight - is one of my favourite things about photography. I'm fascinated by the nature of some of the shadows it creates and I'm delighted by the way it's caught by single strands of hair, transparent materials and droplets of water. Different days, different skies and different light has all kinds of wonders to be experimented with and explored. 

So yes - light is a glorious thing. This post is simply a brief appreciation of that. All of the above images were snapped by me. The photo of flowers plaited into hair is of my mum and the second image is of my god-sister Jazz. All other portraits are of my sister, Ireland.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Perdita






First and last two images were taken with a Pentax k-x and the rest were taken with a Nikon L120
All images (except the black & white photo) are unretouched
Model is my sister, Ireland
Photos taken by me
I really enjoyed taking these photos of my lovely, elegant, semi-willing photography subject, Ireland (although she would call herself my "photography victim"). It takes quite a bit of begging before my sister agrees to do a photo session with me, although I can understand why: I'm very bossy when I'm behind the camera, I get her to lie down in uncomfortable patches of itchy flowers, it means she has to change out of her 'comfy clothes', and I put her in summer dresses whilst forgetting that it's almost winter.It was a surprisingly warm day today, so I didn't think the light dressing would be an issue, but towards the end of the photo shoot Ireland was getting cold and annoyed as I pleaded "Just one more...here, just look over there...no, that didn't work, again....wait, wait, wait, do this". So, big thanks to Ireland for these photos (and for putting up with me).

With the dress, flowers and garland, this shoot felt a little 'Grecian Goddess meets Perdita' although the garland was something I quickly made as an afterthought and the charity shopped silk dress (which in reality is greener than it looks in the photos) was haphazardly plucked from Ireland's wardrobe. 

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Fashion Revolution


Today, the 24th of April 2014, is the one year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh, which killed 1,133 workers. But today is also Fashion Revolution day - if anything good has come out of the Bangladesh building collapse, it's this.
Fashion Revolution day is about remembering the devastation of the factory collapse while asking "Who Made Your Clothes?" and making change. Many people are wearing their clothes inside out, showing the labels and taking "inside out selfies" which are posted to instagram, facebook, twitter and the like, with the #insideout, #whomadeyourclothes & #fashionrevolution hash tags, and contacting the clothing brands, wanting to know who made them. You can show off your ethical labels the same way.

No one is going to know that the dress or the jacket you're wearing is ethically made just by looking at it, which is why I think the idea of wearing your clothes inside out is so brilliant and powerful - it's something that's noticed, that provokes thought and asks questions. Today I'm wearing my clothes inside out, seams on the outside, the buttons of my shirt felt against my skin and the label on the back of my trousers exposed. It's something everyone can join in on, every year on the 24th of April. But it doesn't have to be just today, we should be asking the question of who made our clothes all the time, everyday can be a Fashion Revolution day. "Who made my clothes?" is not the only question to ask either, there are plenty of questions to think about when you're buying something, questions of how long it will last, think about how many wears you can get out of it, can you pass it on to a friend or child? Sell it second hand? And what/who are you supporting when you buy this? There are so many questions to consider, but your basic "who, what, where and why?" questions are always important.

"Fashion is a force to be reckoned with. It celebrates, provokes, and entertains. And, from April 24th 2014, it’s going to do even more. Because we’re turning fashion into a force for good." - quoted from the Fashion Revolution website. 

Today also marks a personal anniversary - one year ago today, I gave up buying clothes new unless they were from an ethical company, taking the pledge to only buy clothes vintage, second hand, handmade or from an ethical label, rather than supporting slave labour and brands that don't care about the people that make their clothes. Even though I sourced most of my clothes from charity shops anyway, it was still difficult. There were a few occasions where I almost broke my oath, trying to justify the purchase I was considering, but once you know the true cost - paid by those who stitched the seams and hemmed the fabrics - you can't really justify something like that. Remembering this, I would put the garments back on the rack.

A very powerful quote that has always stuck with me was this one by Anna Lappe:
"Every time you spend money, you're casting a vote for the kind of world you want." The world I want is free of companies that view the people making their products as dispensable, rather than human beings. All the people killed, injured and affected had and have their very own lives, thoughts, feelings. We may only see a number, such as the death toll of 1,133 - too many people to name individually in the news reports, articles and shared links, but it was the names and lives of individuals that made up that number. Like anyone, the world didn't revolve around those people, but someone's world probably did. And that's the thing, isn't it? you don't have to change the whole world, but you can change someone's whole world, and that's a pretty big thing. That's part of what Fashion Revolution day is about - wearing your clothes inside out and asking those questions are a seemingly small thing, but all together, a large number of people all over the world asking for change...that's a big thing, a very big thing...that's a revolution. 

Also, I'd like to link you to this excellent post by Rosalind of Clothes, Cameras and Coffee about Fashion Revolution day, which includes links to a whole bunch of wonderful pieces she's written in the past about ethical fashion and why it's important, as well as a very important, goosebump-and-possibly-tear-inducing poem she wrote about the Rana Plaza building collapse. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Same Love



“I might not be the same, but that's not important
No freedom 'til we're equal, damn right I support it.”
– Same Love, Macklemore.

didn't really pay much attention the first few times I heard the song ‘Same Love’ by Macklemore. I ignored it like I did with most of the pop songs my sister, Ireland, listened to. It was only after I caught some of the lyrics that I asked Ireland if she could replay it for me so that I could listen to the whole thing. The lyrics and music video are both heart-warming and incredibly important...and not at all what I would have expected from rap: a song about same sex marriage, equality and love. I usually dislike rap, but ‘Same Love’ is much slower and milder, and now I know the lyrics; I've actually ended up enjoying the song as a whole. It makes me feel a lot more hopeful when I start getting upset: it’s easy to get incredibly dispirited some days, the problems with the world and society feeling like a painful grip on your shoulders. The world has come so far with equality, but we still have a long way to go. Last year, Australia made a huge step toward equality when same sex marriage was legalised in Canberra. I was happy and hopeful (of course, angry that it took this long and had to be legalised at all, when it should have just been a given). But that happiness was soon followed by anger and deflation when that law was repealed and all same sex marriages became legally invalid.

I get so angered by the ludicrous arguments people have against gay marriage. Saying ridiculous things like “if gays can get married, what’s to stop someone marrying a goat?” well, um, there’s kind of a humongous difference between two human beings getting married, and a human marrying a goat. And if someone can’t see that difference, they need professional help. I have no idea how people can think that same sex marriages will ruin marriage for everyone else – I'm sorry, are they crashing your wedding or something? If you ask people what marriage is about, most of the answers are going to be “love.” Why would anyone be worried about gay marriage “ruining the sanctity of marriage” when there’s infidelity, spousal abuse, dowry marriages, etc. to be worried about (that is, if you're going to be worried about anything, although I don't see how that affects anyone else's marriage). Or being worried about it ruining the tradition of marriage? Marriage traditions have changed drastically over both thousands of years and just a decade, many for good reason. Plenty of ceremonies don’t have the father giving the bride away because of how it was a symbol of the “ownership” of a woman being passed from one man to the other. Of course, a lot of these are religious beliefs, even though marriage predates many, many religions and is not owned by anyone or any belief. There are some ridiculous things said by those who aren't religious as well. Some people have said that people should just stop getting married and then there wouldn't be a problem (what?!) or saying same sex couples should just take part in a civil union (where’s the equality in that?). The thing is; it’s not so much about marriage, but about equality and freedom of choice. I could go on forever listing the things said against it, and then point out why that’s ridiculous, but I think I have done enough angry "ranting" about that here to be satisfied(ish). But hey, that’s why I created this blog – to express myself.

Basically, it’s distressing and sometimes I really wish I had a point of view gun, but the closest I can come to that right now is to voice my opinion. When I get upset about things like this, it’s important to remember that there are still some wonderful people and wonderful things happening in the world. I am not alone in my wishes for equality, and there have been some huge steps towards it. Even though same-sex marriage is no longer legal in Australia, it was, for a brief time, and nothing can change that. It was one step back, yes, but after two steps forward and I feel hope for a future with equality for all. Although, of course, as Macklemore sings in ‘Same Love’ “no law is gonna change us, We have to change us” but he also says “a certificate on paper isn't gonna solve it all, But it’s a damn good place to start”. 

*Disclaimer: In mentioning religion, I am not saying that all religious people say and believe those things and I am not attacking religion. 

Sunday, 23 March 2014

A Galaxy Of Poems & A Bed Of Vines






I was at a small local secondhand bookshop when the lovely 60's print of this wonderful book of poems caught my eye. I grabbed it excitedly and added to my haul of books. It's the perfect book for reading on a relaxed afternoon in the garden, enjoying poems and poets both familiar and unfamiliar. It has work from poets and writers such as Shakespeare, Tennyson, Keats, Thomas Hardy, Gerard Manley Hopkins and Lord Byron, to others less heard of. To me it has similar qualities to charity shops. I love that charity shops have a range of things, old and new, to search through until you find something to treasure. You don't have to look for anything in particular, just search until something catches your eye (perhaps something that you're surprised you like, either because it's not what would be your usual style or because it's by a creator that you don't usually like). The same goes for this book. I find myself enjoying a variety of different poems and poets. From dark, morbid poems to seasonal poems with autumnal descriptions of golden pears, crisp light and overripe fruits, spring and summer poems telling of babbling brooks, blooming daffodils and faerie feasts.

I have only recently taken an interest in poetry and this book was an excellent place to start. I have taken a particular liking to Byron and Keats and I keep going back to Keats' poem 'To Autumn' every time I open the book. The lines in this beautiful poem are to be savoured, I particularly loved: "With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; To bend with apples the moss'd cottage trees" and "While barr├ęd clouds bloom the soft-dying day...".
Anyway, I just wanted to share my love of this book with you. The photos were taken by my mum this afternoon, we sat amongst the green vines that cover a large part of our garden, laughed and took pictures of each other. The vines are not as comfortable as they look.
Oh, and while we were on the subject of poetry, has anyone read this rather brilliant poem 'Our Generation' by a fourteen year old named Jordan Nichols?

In other news, I have just joined Pip Lincolne of Meet Me At Mike's and many other bloggers in Pip's A Year Of Ethical Fashion. I am taking the pledge to only wear ethically. "If I'm looking for things to wear I will only:
a) Buy from ethical makers or
b) Buy second-hand or
c) Make it myself  or
d) Wear things I already own or
e) Borrow or swap garments with friends" - The A Year Of Ethical Fashion pledge.  


You can join in here or on the YOEF Facebook group. I took the pledge in April last year after the tragic Bangladesh factory collapse that killed over one thousand workers. This year I'm continuing to wear ethically and have been introduced to some excellent labels thanks to what's been shared in the facebook group. 
On that note, I should tell you about my the clothes I'm wearing. The shorts (which are actually a darker emerald green) are vintage and were a present from my mum. The silk top is Little Green Dress and was borrowed from my sister. Little Green Dress is a 'slow fashion' label, the clothes are made from sustainable end of run fabrics and are Australian made. I'm even being ethical with my underwear choices: my bra underneath was bought a year or two ago (thankfully still fits well) and my knickers are from Who Made Your Pants? which is a company in the UK that gives fair wage jobs to women who need them to make underwear from end of run fabrics. They also tell you exactly who made them (my very comfortable Cecilia pants were made by Batol & Friends). I was also meant to have a hand-me-down black cardigan with that (so I could match the print of the book) but it was forgotten during the shoot.