Previously known as Libdemchild

Saturday, 24 February 2018

Who cares what Kylie Jenner said about Snapchat?

The day before yesterday it was revealed that Snapchat's value dropped by $1.3 billion following a tweet by Kylie Jenner, the youngest of the Kardashian family. In the tweet (pictured), she claims that she no longer uses the popular social media app and this caused investors to take note and jump ship from Snapchat.

Who cares what Kylie Jenner has to say? Young people have been complaining about the recent Snapchat update and how it renders the app virtually unusable for weeks. I cannot believe that investors base decisions on flighty celebrities' likes and dislikes. It is worrying that our generation's collective consumer voice has less effect than the tweet of a single Kardashian.

This may seem like a trivial complaint yet when you consider that social media is young people's main platform, it does become worrying that we are unable to even influence that. Social media is how we politically and socially mobilise. It is responsible for fourth wave feminism, much of our discussion over Trump and Brexit and black lives matter. When the political world is reserved for older generations and our votes seem unable to affect change it's highly important that social media remains as our domain.

It is a two-way street and by ignoring young people's voices investors are only causing detriment to themselves.  We are the primary consumers, not Kylie Jenner.

Thursday, 15 February 2018

Is Britain Still Racist? What a stupid question...

One of the topics of the BBC's 'The Big Questions' this Sunday was 'Is Britain Still Racist'. I was sure that the general consensus would be that racism is very much alive in Britain but I was shocked to see so many people, some of whom were people of colour, denying the existence of racism in this country. How can this be when you consider Britain's history - it is a country built on imperialism, slavery and its current political atmosphere is defined by Brexit, a referendum that was largely shaped by racist and anti-immigrant rhetoric. If you apply the concept of 'long-duree'it's clear that Brexit is merely a continuation of racist feelings.

Not only do I know that racism is flourishing in the UK because of things I see online, some of which is shown below, or because of hate crime statistics, also shown below, but also because of the behaviour that I see white people comfortably exhibit around me because, even though I am half Indian, I am white passing.

A while ago Lionel Richie's daughter, Sofia Richie, spoke about how people are racist around her because they don't realise that she is black due to her light skin colour. This is something that I have experienced all too often.

The most common thing that I hear are jokes that poke fun at Indian men for contacting women online. This kind of humour reduces Indian men to mere sexual predators as if they are an inferior species. Whilst I recognise that unsolicited sexual advances online are completely unacceptable the use of jokes such, "show bobs and vagene" (which is supposed to mean show boobs and vagina) implies this idea that Indian men are illiterate, primitive and inferior animals. I have included an image of one of these jokes below, note the caption on the right-hand side.

Whilst this may seem like a harmless internet joke the frequency of this kind of humour and the fact that is not met with outcry evidences the idea that racism in this country is rampant. I have also had friends tell me that they move away from "Indian or Asian looking people" on public transport because they fear terrorism.

Only a few weeks ago I was walking down the street with my Indian mother when a white man spat at her from his truck and shouted "scum" at her. What worried me the most about this was that my mother was barely shaken and it is because racism is part of her daily life. People have been moving away from her on public transport for years.

My white privilege is something that cocoons me from the true realities of racism but my ethnicity has allowed me to see that it most certainly exists, and it is an insidious force in this country. However, my experience barely scratches the surface because my daily interactions are not shaped by race in the same way that it is for people of colour. It saddens me greatly that my mother tells me she is thankful that I am not the same skin colour as her because it means that I will have more opportunities in life. That is just the scary reality of this country.

In 'BBC Big Questions' I also saw the extent to which the existence of racism is denied. The denial of racism is dangerous because it stops racism from ever being eliminated by preventing people of colour from even having a platform to discuss it. How can something ever be solved if we don't acknowledge that it exists? Racism is an uncomfortable truth but it is one that must be faced.

I saw this denial of racism come from an Asian woman on 'The Big Questions'. When Kehinde Andrews cited a statistic that 40% of young black men are unemployed an Asian woman on the show replied asking why the other 60% weren't unemployed if racism really did exist. This kind of ignorance amongst both white people and people of colour simultaneously supports the narrative that racism is non-existent and validates racist behaviour. Below I have included some tweets from the debate which angered me.

This next tweet (shown below), in particular, stood out to me because it reeks of white privilege in that it fails to recognise the truly insidious nature of racism in this country. The tweet refers only to overt and obvious racist acts which are only a minor form of racism. The reality of racism is that it is of a pervasive nature because of its deep historical roots. Racism is embedded in the institutions and mindsets of people in this country and only when it resonates deeply in the psyche of a racist individual does it manifest itself in violent behaviour. Normally, it is a simmering force that oppresses people of colour.

I, myself know this because of an interaction I had with my mother when I was very young. Somebody was taking a photo of me and I told my mum to take her hand out of the photo because I did not want a brown hand in the photo. I had heard this kind of thing around me at school, I remember a white boy telling a mixed race girl at my school that he did not want to hold her hand because it was brown. I did not even understand the ramifications of what I said but racism had already infiltrated my perspective of society and my white privilege was already manifesting itself. This is the reality of racism and white people have to unlearn this thought process and face this reality head-on if the problem is ever to be fixed. This process of unlearning is still something I have to do everyday because of how immense white privelege is.

Additionally, the tweet is factually inaccurate because even though racism is often met by retaliation, as it should be, there has actually been the highest rise in hate crime ever recorded immediately after the Brexit vote.  I recently wrote an essay for university regarding the rise of ethnocentrism in the Western world. All the evidence that I examined, particularly regarding hate crime, showed that ethnocentric ideas and outright racism are only on the rise in the West. The UK experienced a 27% rise in hate crime in the last year alone. Brexit and the idea that we should no longer be 'politically correct', just like Nigel Farage or Donald Trump who are the opposite of 'politically correct', has validated racist tendencies and behaviour.

What I am saying here is nothing new. However, the inability of people to even grasp that racism exists makes me feel like we are not even close to making headway on the issue. The everyday racism that I see from unapologetic white people, some happily say the N word around me or use other racial slurs thinking that I will not call them out, as well as the fact that people are happy to go on national television and deny the existence of racism entirely confirms the issue. When this is further evidenced by statistics it is so undeniably clear that Britain is still racist and it always will be until our political climate, language and behaviour do not consistently validate racism. 

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Will women be equal to men in 100 years? - The opinion of a teenage girl

Yesterday the Guardian published an article entitled 'Will women be equal to men in 100 years? The panel verdict' in honour of the centenary anniversary of the Representation of the People Act which marked the start of female suffrage in the UK. The article collates the opinion of 5 women on the possibility of total gender equality by 2118. It addresses a range of issues including the necessity of free childcare in order to ensure equality and the possibility of a rise in "working class feminism".

The article stood out to me as it considers the possible future of gender equality from the perspective of several women, however, it does not put forward the opinion of a young girl. It is up to my generation to dismantle systematic inequalities and eradicate sexism from daily interactions, I have observed first hand the realities of sexism in my generation and I can see that full gender equality will not be possible in the next 100 years.

Whilst it is undeniable that significant strides in gender equality have been made in the past few years this progress is undercut by the continual presence of the female body as a marketable and controlled product.

Don't get me wrong, I have been delighted to see the emergence of fourth wave feminism and to see the rise of the gender equality movements such as #metoo. However, we cannot become complacent because we have a long way to go.

Any claims that gender equality has been, or is close to being, reached are false and this is evidenced by the rise of Instagram body types, the election of Trump and the appearance of the female body as the main mode of capitalist advertisement.

Young girls are plagued with an unattainable body image from a young age and this is perpetuated through the media and increasingly through social media. It is inescapable and I see it every day. There are countless numbers of girls on Instagram who have thousands of followers simply for having the 'ideal' body type. Whilst I encourage the celebration of the female body the extent of this is beyond unhealthy and becomes a constant template of comparison for young girls.

What makes this so much worse is that these models often advertise ways to get this 'ideal body' which includes products such as 'FitTea' and waist trainers. These products have actually been proven to be bad for your body with FitTea simply acting as a laxative and waist trainers altering the shape of your internal organs. One of the most famous of these Instagram models is Alexis Ren who has almost 12 million followers. Alexis has admitted to having an eating disorder, whilst there is no shame in this, she is hailed as an example of health and beauty and girls compare their bodies to hers in a self-degrading way. This kind of sexism is achieved through the control of women's bodies and it is so embedded in our society that girls self-police. They choose to follow these women and compare themselves, this is something I am guilty of and it is almost inescapable.

The above image was created by the clothing company 'Suistudio' and offers a commentary on how advertising uses women's bodies as selling points by reversing the typical gender roles. The image may seem unnecessarily derogatory to the male model but it is shockingly accurate. Upon searching the term 'perfume ad' into google the two images below were some of the first results that popped up. These images are strikingly similar to the above picture. Women's bodies have become cogs in the capitalist marketing machine and this has embedded sexism so deeply in our society that men and women alike are conditioned to consider female appearance as their most important characteristic above all else.

Until this is tackled true gender equality cannot ever be achieved as women will be unable to move beyond this sexualised image and any gender equality achievements will simply be one step forward and two steps back

Laurie Penny expressed the expected role of women in this society in her fantastic book 'Meat Market' where she writes, "Women are commanded to always look available but never actually be so, where, we are obliged to appear socially and sexually consumable whilst consuming as little as possible".

The election of Trump, an accused sexual abuser who admitted to using women's bodies however he pleased in his famous quote "grab them by the pussy", is perhaps the greatest evidence that gender equality is nowhere near being eradicated. The president of America is often described as being 'the most important person in the world'. When 'the most important person in the world' perpetuates and encourages sexist and abusive behaviour it validates a continuance of gender inequality which will take generations to remedy.

Please don't even present the argument that the UK is closer to gender equality just because we currently have a female prime minister. Firstly Theresa May is a right-wing white woman and, secondly, she is far from being a champion of women's rights. As Home Secretary, she oversaw the running of Yarl's Wood detention centre, a detention centre for immigrants and asylum seekers, where female detainees experienced physical, sexual and verbal abuse of which May did nothing to remedy. She is just another Conservative agent. The Western world is no shining beacon of gender equality.

As Polly Toynbee aptly phrased it, "never underestimate the size of the task to reverse all history since time began." My generation has begun the reversal of gender inequality but we simultaneously encourage it. The task of gender equality is  humungous and will not be complete by 2118. 
Blogger Template Created by pipdig