Tag Archives: feminism

BBC Merseyside Upfront feminism debate, to be continued…

Its 2014 and one of the fun things I’ve been doing in 2013 is joining Nguana’s radio show Upfront, on BBC Merseyside. Partner in crime Jody, keeps the whole thing turning into a Ian vs Nguana and friends verbal wipping. Trust me it would turn that way…

This time the debate was “has femisim gone crazy?” Not exactly what it was planned to be but go with it…

As I said in the post previously…

I have already declared myself a feminist in the blog post my crisis with masculinity and how feminism set me free. I originally was expecting lots more push back than I actually got but not being far from a good debate.

So it went really well, the debate was more about common decency to not just women but all humans. We did slowly get into more feminist topics but we ran out of time before we could get going. It was clear that a part 2 is needed. Hopefully some of the other guests will be on too, so they can add to the debate.

You can listen to the whole show for another 6 days on BBC iPlayer on Demand (about 90mins in for 25mins). Otherwise and for the international readers/listeners you can listen to a clipped version I created for archive purposes without the music.

Listen to the debate on Feminism and dating

I have already declared myself a feminist in the blog post my crisis with masculinity and how feminism set me free. I originally was expecting lots more push back than I actually got but not being far from a good debate I thought I’d let you all know that this Sunday on BBC Merseyside, I’ll be on talking about feminism in the context of online dating.

Of course it would be simply weird if it was just me and host Nguana debating. So we’ll be joined by my lovely partner in dating crime, Jody. Theres also other guests to going to join us, but expect fireworks and outrageous debate on a Sunday night.

You can tune in live by listening to the live stream from between 9pm and 10pm on Sunday. Not sure if Nguana is taking phone-ins but you can try calling in if we upset you in some way. Of course you can listen on-demand via BBC iPlayer later for up to 7 days. I’ll try and make a archive copy without the music again for those living out side the UK.

If you want to hear the fun we have on air, listen to one of these other shows…

My crisis masculinity and how feminism set me free

Cosmopolitan, The Kitchen

Through the women I have met and dated, I have met other people who have slightly shaped my world view or even brought things into focus.

One of the most noticeable recently was Valeska who I met through Architect Jane one day at a party she held. I don’t even know how we got on to the subject but she recommended a post which I didn’t know but had been thinking about in many different ways since. “My crisis masculinity and how feminism set me free.

I have always been deeply moved by injustice of women face in this world, and have tried to do my part where ever possible. I hadn’t really thought of myself as a feminist but only because I always tied being a feminist with being a woman. The notion of being a feminist was like the guys who claim to be black inside.

Which always reminds me of that scene from Go when Marcus and the guys are travelling to Las Vegas

TINY: Yo, I told you, my mother’s mother’s mother was black!
MARCUS: Your mother’s mother’s mother, f*** – this ain’t “Roots”, mutha… Man, I wanna see a picture of this Nubian princess. If you were any less black, you would be clear.
MARCUS: Look at your skin.
TINY: I see black because I know I am. Color is a state of mind.
MARCUS: Thank you Rhythm Nation.

How can I as a man truly understand what its like to be a woman? I might be able to identify with some of the problems, injustices, wrongs being a black man but really?

I’m lucky; I’ve been surrounded by remarkable women from an early age. My grandmother, who successfully ran two shops despite the bricks thrown through the window and “Pakis Out” graffiti common on the south London council estate where she lived, or my mother who, having been kicked out of Uganda by Idi Amin in the early Seventies, learned English from scratch while running a household at the age of 11 and is now managing director of a major healthcare consultancy. The women in my family are truly something to behold. There’s a financial analyst, a management consultant, an actuary, a New York ad exec and, in laughably stereotypical fashion, a multitude of doctors. They’re not perfect, but they’re as close to super women as I’ve ever seen.

Just like the author, I was surrounded by very strong woman. My mother is amazing, she works so hard and came to the UK with one of her sisters alone. They lived through a very bitterly racist Britain and laid the founding ground for the rest of the family to come from Jamaica. My Anties are all strongly opinionated women, my mum was the peace keeper in comparison. It wasn’t just my mums side either, my dads side also has some insanely opinionated women.

We men are still letting ourselves be bound by arbitrary and utterly ridiculous ideas about what a man is supposed to be, and I don’t just mean that which manifests itself as violence or systemic oppression. It’s also in the silly, day-to-day stuff: I have very close friends whose commitment to equal rights and representation amongst the genders I could hardly fault, and yet they still would be resistant, due mostly to the hot pink font on the DVD cover, to watching Bridesmaids. NB chaps: you’re sorely missing out. Similarly, I’m met with howls of derision if I order so-called “girly” drinks in pubs, even though everyone knows how unequivocally delicious they are. As far as I’m concerned, if we’re still gendering drinks, feminism isn’t finished.

It is a total joke that a man wouldn’t watch Bridesmaids because its pink (by the way Bridesmaids is funny but also quite toiletry in parts), but I’ve met guys who are so constrained by the notion of masculinity that they won’t have anything to do with Pink.

Girly drinks is a massive a problem I have. I like good cocktails and cosmopolitans are good solid cocktails. I must have told the story (which is in my book) when I was on a date in somewhere I should have known better. She wanted a pint of something, and so I go her it and I thought I’d give the cocktails a try. Ordering a cosmopolitan gives me a idea if they are good or crap at their cocktails. So I got a Cosmo. Slowly walking back with the pint and cosmo. I gently put the pint in front of my date and the put the cosmo in front of where I was sitting opposite her. Within a few minutes a guy walks up and says.

“Hey I think you got the drinks mixed up…?”

Oh how we laughed, not!

Many times I have to deal with the idea that a highly potent cocktail is a girly drink because its pink and it appeared on sex in the city a few times. How crap is that…!?

DSC07964

I’m actually convinced this is the reason why there is a metropolitan cocktail.

Seriously, if having a pink drink makes you less masculine, then I might as well check out now.

We do need to talk about masculinity, or indeed the myth of it. There is a generation of young men out there who are sick of being told to “man up”, who tire of the patronising way that they are treated by the advertising industry and who hate the fear of being ostracised from many of their peers if they don’t participate in “banter” or acquiesce to social pressures to objectify women. Those for whom “being a man” is a daily burden – there’s more of them than you think. We can show these men that there is a community of people out there who will accept them for who they are. To me, this is as powerful an example of the life-changing potential of feminism as you could think of.

I can totally understand this. No one likes to be left out, the same way no one wants to be the last picked at Basketball. Social pressure is massive but group think is also very real and very scary. I have witnessed banter get out of hand, it takes a very strong willed person to stand up and say, “thats out of order”. Very few are willing to rub there hand against the social pressure like the thick sandpaper on a grinder. Heck even myself sometimes think “this isn’t the time to bring it up.” But if you pull each person aside and say “hey I think that was wrong” most would agree with you.

I declare I am a feminist and actually this is the new norm, if most modern men looked at their values deep down. I love to think most would side with a feminist view point. The same way the new norm changed to stand in favour of equality for all many decades ago. It doesn’t make you less sexually a man, you still love woman but your views are enlightened. It was hard to bring myself to say it but its so strikingly obvious to me now. Its this simple…

the radical idea that women are, in fact, people too…

My belief structure is that people should be treated equally, women are people too!

Saying and thinking so, is so liberating – crisis over… thank you Valeska

Don’t worry let it soak in, you will all be saying it in years to come.

Whats a woman to do? stop making startups about babies, shopping, etc…?

Been meaning to blog about this for ages but once again BarCampMediaCity occupied most of my time over the last few weeks/month.

I saw a blog post from the irresistible Tara Hunt and almost hit the roof when reading it… (Don’t worry there’s plenty more roof hitting in the next few blog posts)

The punch was the tweet which came from Jolie O’Dell, who seems to be someone a lot of people know and follow (although to be fair I’d never really heard of her before). Her tweet said…

Jolie's Tweet (for my blog)

Or if you disabled images for what ever reason, it reads “Women: Stop making startups about fasion, shopping & babies. At least for the next few years. You’re embarrassing me.

As some one commented on Tara’s Flickr, Can’t wait to see your response to this one! and [gets popcorn]. I won’t even touch on the tweets and general outrage only because Tara’s done a great job summing it up.

So what can I bring to the discussion almost 3 weeks later? Not that much but I do find it interesting reading Tara’s post and her post analysis.

I kind of wish I could just pull together my thoughts while reading on the tram into work recently (need to tie together ifttt with storyify… But I was surprised by Tara’s sobering conclusion.

When I moved to San Francisco in 2005, it took me about 6 months to deny myself my femininity. It wasn’t fashionable to be fashionable. I moved to SF with a closet full of designer dresses, suits and shoes and within 6 months all I was wearing were jeans and t-shirts. I am ecstatic to see photos of events filled with women in dress clothes and high heels. My only embarrassment lies in that I didn’t have the *erm* balls to be the woman I am back then.

Instead of embarrassed that there are so many women doing startups involving fashion/shopping/babies, I’m proud. I’m proud of a truly inclusive tech scene where women can women, men can men, women can men, men can women and all sorts of other genderific combinations thereof. And I, for one, welcome the pink ghettoization of the tech startup scene – at least for the time being – because it means women are making a grand entrance. And what an entrance it is!

Tara’s quite a lady and its a real shame she felt she had to adopt her style, lifestyle and personality to favour a male dominated world just to fit in with the perceived or otherwise differences.

This all somewhat hap-hazardly spills into my thinking about woman of today.

Someone, can’t remember who pointed me at this New York Times piece titled… Whats a modern girl to do?

Once again I had it saved in my readitlater list and was slowly digesting parts of it on my kindle while almost throwing my kindle out the window in almost total disgust.

For example…

[1] Men, apparently, learn early to protect their eggshell egos from high-achieving women. The girls said they hid the fact that they went to Harvard from guys they met because it was the kiss of death. “The H-bomb,” they dubbed it. “As soon as you say Harvard Business School . . . that’s the end of the conversation,” Ani Vartanian said. “As soon as the guys say, ‘Oh, I go to Harvard Business School,’ all the girls start falling into them.”

[2] Women in their 20’s think old-school feminists looked for equality in all the wrong places, that instead of fighting battles about whether women should pay for dinner or wear padded bras they should have focused only on big economic issues. After Googling and Bikramming to get ready for a first dinner date, a modern girl will end the evening with the Offering, an insincere bid to help pay the check. “They make like they are heading into their bag after a meal, but it is a dodge,” Marc Santora, a 30-year-old Metro reporter for The Times, says.  “They know you will stop them before a credit card can be drawn. If you don’t, they hold it against you.”

My mom gave me three essential books on the subject of men. The first, when I was 13, was “On Becoming a Woman.” The second, when I was 21, was “365 Ways to Cook Hamburger.” The third, when I was 25, was “How to Catch and Hold a Man,” by Yvonne Antelle. (“Keep thinking of yourself as a soft, mysterious cat.. . .Men are fascinated by bright, shiny objects, by lots of curls, lots of hair on the head . . . by bows, ribbons, ruffles and bright colors.. . .Sarcasm is dangerous. Avoid it altogether.”)

Its a long piece but its well worth reading because there’s so much interesting stuff in there.

Honestly I don’t know what to say but it seems like I might be out of touch with the ultra modern woman (it may seem).

The modern woman seems to have rejected all the feminism ideals of the past few decades. She sees that whole movement as backwards, counter productive and somewhat old fashioned. But as the post concludes at the end, there’s certain amount of boomeranging which is going to happen.

Having boomeranged once, will women do it again in a couple of decades? If we flash forward to 2030, will we see all those young women who thought trying to Have It All was a pointless slog, now middle-aged and stranded in suburbia, popping Ativan, struggling with rebellious teenagers, deserted by husbands for younger babes, unable to get back into a work force they never tried to be part of?

It’s easy to picture a surreally familiar scene when women realize they bought into a raw deal and old trap. With no power or money or independence, they’ll be mere domestic robots, lasering their legs and waxing their floors – or vice versa – and desperately seeking a new Betty Friedan.