Category: Feminism

She Ran a Marathon Without a Tampon — and Lived

In April, Harvard grad and drummer for M.I.A. Kiran Gandhi ran theLondon Marathon while menstruating. Before the race, she decided to skipthe discomfort of running with a tampon in and let her period blood rundown her legs. In a new follow-up interview with People, Gandhi givesmore context about what drove her to go with the flow:

How After School Activities Reduces HIV In Girls

South Africa is one of the hardest hit countries in the world when it comes to HIV infection rates, with 6.5 million people living with the deadly disease. Teenage girls and young women are most at risk for infection – one in three South African women under the age of 24 is HIV positive.

This leaves the South African government and community leaders with a troublesome challenge. However the answer may be simple. As the infographic below indicates, keeping our girls safe may be as simple as providing safe places for them after school.

Women’s Reproductive Health in South Africa

By: Sarah Osman, MSc. Contributors: Mantshi Teffo-Menziwa and Denise Hunt, Marie Stopes South Africa

In South Africa, a paradox ensues when looking at data on women’s reproductive health. The last Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) of 2003 states that 90 percent of pregnant women received antenatal care and 91 percent of births were attended by a skilled health practitioner, yet the latest estimates of maternal mortality in the country approximate the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) at up to 625 per 100 000 live births. The same DHS reports that 65 percent of women in South Africa are using a modern form of contraception, yet recent cross-sectional studies show that over 60 percent of most recent pregnancies are unplanned.


The F Word

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Feminism a dirty word. It’s often used as an insult, and has the power to make acquaintances and colleagues remarkably uncomfortable. Some people denounce feminism because they don’t think men are the enemy. Others feel that we no longer need feminism because they treat everyone the same. Others think that patriarchy is a conspiracy theory.

Despite all of the charges brought against feminism, I am a proud feminist. And here’s why.

I believe in equality.

The biggest misconception about feminists is that they are exclusively women who are trying to gain power over men. Feminists – both male and female – are fighting for equality among the sexes. Thanks to feminists women are able to vote, go to university and generally have more agency over their lives.Thanks to feminism mandated paternal leave is beginning to gain ground, men’s paternal rights are better protected, and slowly but surely, boys are no longer needing to prove their “masculinity” on a regular basis. Thanks to feminism women and men have permission to be exactly who they are despite their gender, and that’s a cause I can get behind.

Women are still oppressed.

im a feminist

For many middle class women and men, the idea that women are oppressed is outrageous and does not reflect their reality.

In South Africa, a woman is killed by a partner every eight hours. Child marriage is rampant across the continent.

More subtley, men still dominate senior management positions and on average, earn more than women for the same work. The list goes on and on.

I loath misogynists. I loath misandrists too.

misandryIf there is one thing I want to scream across the hilltops it’s this: Femists don’t hate men! Misandrists hate men!

Misandrists have done the most damage to the feminist movement by masquerading as feminists. By infiltrating our ranks, they seek legitimacy and make the rest of us seem like power hungry crazies in the process. Boo misandrists! And boo misogynists!

No one is better than anyone else.Okay?


So in the end, I’m a feminist because…


The Bechdel Test

When Brad Pitt’s wife in World War Z called him at the most inopportune moment possible, alerting the whole zombie world to Brad’s presence – even I, miss self-proclaimed feminist since primary school – found myself frustrated with this WOMAN for not being able to leave her man alone for like, 2 seconds, so he could save the world. Clingy much?!

This is why the Bechdel test is so important. The Bechdel test is a simple check to evaluate the representation of women in film. The Bechdel test sets the bar really low, and even then a large portion of films fail it.

For a film, book or the like to pass the Bechdel test, the following requirements must be met:
1. It features at least 2 women who have names
2. These women talk to each other
3. They talk to each other about something other than men

There are a few caveats to this, such as when the setting of the film doesn’t allow for the presence of strong female characters (Dead Poet’s Society) or when the strong female character is the only character (Gravity).

Think about whether or not some of your favourite movies pass the Bechdel test. I think you will find that a good portion of them don’t.

Why does the Bechdel test matter?

This simple, if not limited test highlights an important issue – the underrepresention of half the world’s population in media. The media is incredibly powerful in shaping our worlds. When we watch movies and read books which portray women solely in relation to men or as objects to be sexualised or saved, we rob women and men of the opportunity to see a female as a human being first. One that is able to speak about abstract ideas, feelings and heck – maybe even move the plot forward and save the day.

I often wonder about what message we are sending to little boys and girls when the dominant narrative is that boys are heroes that must be aggressive and do it on their own, and girls are objects to be sexualised or protected from the world. What message does it send to both genders when women in film are consistently side-lined and men are the aggressors or saviours?

In Britain, the leading cause of death in men under the age of 35 is suicide. In South Africa, violence against women and girls remain endemic. In the United States of America, every single mass shooting except for one has been committed by a man. The representation of women in film is not just a “woman’s issue” – its humanity’s issue, period.

The Bechdel test merely asks that 2 women who have names talk to each other about something other than men. That is something that happens every day. Men can be sensitive and nurturing, women can be leaders who are strong and athletic– and it’s about time we start expecting this from film and media.

From the Mouths of Rapists: Blurred Lines

From the Mouths of Rapists: The Lyrics of Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines

Stop Telling Women to Smile

“Why don’t you smile more? This has become a part of everyday street harassment, and some commenters are under the assumption that it’s a woman’s job to be outwardly cheerful at all times. If she’s not, there must be something wrong.”

Fantastic art project that deserves a look | Stop Telling Women to Smile