Today is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Why do we have such a day? Well duh, because women and girls are suffering violence. Violence on such a scale across the globe that we have to raise awareness. Allow me to furnish you with some statistics. 35% of women and girls experience some form of physical or sexual violence - in some countries this statistic goes up to seven in ten women suffering abuse. It's been estimated that as many as 30 million girls under 15 are at risk from FGM/C and over 130 million girls have undergone the procedure. What else can I tell you, 700 million of women alive today, today, were married as children and 250 million before they reached 15. Girls who marry under 18 are less likely to finish their education and more at risk of domestic violence and complications in childbirth.
This isn't the first time I have found myself vaguely (or enthusiastically) defending Barbie. Or rather having faith in the imagination of children, but I find myself discussing a small doll again. Last week a new doll was released with the intention of treading on Barbie's tiny toes (which would be unfortunate because Barbie needs those to stand on) called Lammily. Lammily is a similar size and age to Barbie, she is not a baby doll, she is in fact designed to depict a 19 year old woman in a more realistic fashion. The creation of digital artist and designer Nickolay Lamm, Lammily is supposed to help those who play with Barbies realise that her body type is not the only kind to aspire to. Lamm told Huffpost that he "wanted to show that average is beautiful and that we shouldn't compare ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards. And I feel Barbie kind of symbolizes that."
We think the period during which Kim Kardashian was threatening to break the internet is over. We are safe. For now. Of course she didn't mean it but that doesn't mean a host of copy-cat internet destroyers won't start popping up all over the place. That is the nature of celebrity and fandom. Remember after Demi Moore's Vanity Fair cover in which she posed pregnant and nude it became absolutely de rigueur to pose naked on the cover of a magazine in a similar pose to announce the impending celebrity by maternal/paternal association infant. It shall now be strongly suggested that celebrities pose nude and threaten the general public whilst doing so. It was bound to happen, we see so much nudity nowadays that it simply isn't enough to bare all. However we think Kim should have gone about breaking the internet in more practical, less chilly ways. Here are some ideas.
Last week Kim Kardashian launched project Break the Internet. Her weapon of choice? Butt. Followed by nipples and a hint of vulva. It is not the first time we have seen Kim's naked body but it is the first time we have been quite so incensed by it. Too shiny! She's a mother! Oh my goodness that black sequin dress looks like a bin bag! Is that butt even real? I can't believe she has no pubic hair. Other important comments were made, such as the fact these nude photos were different because it's perhaps the first time we have seen this woman smile or look like she is having any fun. Which was nice. There was also however the problem that this image of Kim's buttocks was seemingly deemed more acceptable than, for example, Nicki Minaj's - why is one butt decent and the other indecent? It's also interesting that when nude images of famous women were stolen we all liked to take a sneaky peek but for some reason a woman consensually posing nude is peculiarly iffy. However let us not forget that the internet did not break, we had access to the usual plethora of information and we chose to highlight a woman's nude photoshoot over a the deaths of women in a sterilisation camp in India.
Ah, fashion. I for one love it. I love commenting on it, I love looking at it and sometimes I love thinking that I am wearing it and that everyone else is wrong. It's not always polite to comment on fashion, or someone's fashion choice. Particularly if you are going to comment on your impression of their morality from their fashion choice. But sometimes it is. There have been two cases of this recently. In one fashion comment incident a man appeared on TV to discuss the amazing Rosetta mission wearing a shirt covered in pictures of busty women with many people took issue with. In another a woman in Kenya was assaulted by a group of men for wearing 'tempting' attire. Hey, here's a quiz for Tuesday, which person deserves a group of people rushing to their defence?
Usually we try to make the Friday 5 theme vaguely topical. You know, for hits. But this week we are just indulging ourselves for our own amusement. Sometimes we encounter people with names so perfectly matched to their job it seems as though it was destiny. Or they got confused as to where to sign on their careers day form. There is a term for all those bakers who have the surname Baker, or butchers who are Butchers etc. Nominative determinism.
We have picked our best cases of this...
With pick up artists, street harassment, the re-discovery of laddism and good old fashioned misogyny creating an atmosphere that makes women and girls feel unsafe it is unsurprising that a new dating app is in the works. My Twitter feed is full of screenshots of inappropriate messages via OKCupid et al that women on the site have received. Men have sent them creepy compliments, sexual demands, angry notes once they realise they have been rejected and then pleading when they remember using capital letters on a stranger rarely works and doesn't count as negging. Which totally always works. Moving on from Tinder's swipe left policy dating app like Siren was, perhaps, inevitable. But is it a good idea?
When not studying Sue seems to be spending most of her time monitoring her cactus, parking, or at the dentist in a respectful silence...
My Christmas cactus seems to still be on British Summer Time. It's flowering already. It will have peaked by the time Christmas gets here, which actually if the shops are anything to go by is tomorrow, so it might just make it after all. It takes the fun out of things when it all starts too early. There's even a Christmas tree in my hairdressers, yet we have only just had Halloween and bonfire night. My Marxist colleagues would of course put this down to capitalist free market influences, whereas I just think overexposure dulls the senses and people will largely ignore the trappings until they are good and ready to get in the zone and not a minute before.
Nipples. The only part I recall of Jim Carrey vehicle Cable Guy is when he leans towards his leading man's ear (I assume for this film leading man is the correct terminology - plus I forget who the actor was) and whispers "nipple". The leading man is horrified. I think he has to either say nipple or describe a nipple. Or two. A pair of nipples. It's not right, thinks the leading man, he cannot possibly say nipple. Of course the punchline is that no one else in the room thinks nipple is a weird of pervy thing to say. It's just how Jim Carrey said it DAMMIT. I spent the entire film grossed out because I did not care for Jim Carrey until Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. If you asked me in 1996 Jim Carrey had no business saying the word "nipple". So does Keira Knightley have any business showing hers?
The question of who we prioritise, mother or foetus, is a sensitive and enduring one. Those who are anti-choice say they are saving lives. Those who are pro-choice...say they are saving lives. If you want to read about pro-choice arguments then Bustle has a list of them here. The habits and life choices of a pregnant woman are examined and criticised in huge detail, whether or not she intends to keep the foetus and have a child. It is acceptable to tut at a woman with a swollen belly should she take a drag on a cigarette or sip a glass of wine, or eat a piece of cheese, or lick a shellfish, diet, not diet, go swimming, or fail to exercise, or say she hasn't got any ideas for a name. This is because we are showing our concern for the baby she will (if she wants to) have. It is natural to want to give a child every opportunity to succeed in life. It's why we still have private schools and why our MPs send their kids to them rather than just making all schools good enough for their spawn. And because society loves the idea of a baby (though not the actual baby with the care taking and the crying in restaurants etc) it likes to have a nose at the vessel the baby develops in.