8 billionaires to rule us all

honeythatsok

Oxfam’s annual inequality report is here and it is jaw dropping. Last year the organization concluded that 62 billionaires own more wealth than the poorest 50% of humanity. That was a shocking report. This year, 365 days later, the number of billionaires dropped to only 8 individuals that control the same amount of money as the poorest 3.6 billion people on this planet. The reason for this massive jump is that poverty in rural India and China has not improved and the combined resources of impoverished people is less than assumed last year, requiring less billionaires to match their number. The other 54 billionaires from last year, I assume, are still billionaires.

There is no other word for this than grotesque. 1 in 9 people go to bed hungry. Have you tried going to bed hungry? I did last night, in solidarity. I couldn’t sleep so I got up at…

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Hearts for humanity.

International Women’s day is a day to reflect on the progress we have made for an equal world, to hope for the future, to have courage for change, and to celebrate those who have had all kinds of impact on their countries, communities and throughout history.

 

After marching at the #march4women hosted by Care International in London last Sunday, I felt incredibly empowered and ready to take on the world. The inspiration was in the atmosphere and the hope and ambition of every single person in the crowd was amplified, including my own. After dealing with what seemed to be a hopeless situation where the word ‘feminism’ is still misunderstood and gender is still so binary, I felt like people were finally opening their minds and climbing on board for the fight for equality.

 

But this was soon shot down. Thanks to me flushing my phone down a public toilet in Shoreditch (cry), I caught up on the events of the day on Facebook from my laptop and was stunned by the amount of backlash and negativity in the comments which included things like this….

 

Woman 1: So sick of these women’s marches – I’m a women and I find the whole gender equality, pro-abortion thing disgusting – get back in the kitchen and make your families Sunday lunch!!!

 

Man 1: All I see is hundreds of women that just need a good hard shag. After that they will be fine! Think of all of the men going hungry this lunch time. This is inexcusable

 

Man 2: What is it women feel the need to be equal to in the year 2017

 

Man 3: I respect my woman especially when she gets my dinner on the table at a decent hour

 

Man 4: Ffs hear we go again

 

And these were just five of many! By this point I was shouting “make your own damn dinner” at my laptop screen and had lost all hope….

 

Well my anger has since settled and I realised the importance of differentiating opinions, freedom of speech along with raising my voice to help people understand these issues better. And also how similar my questions were to these ridiculous comments. I found myself also questioning why women felt the need to be equal in 2017? Why again? Why on earth are we still trying to resolve these issues? I’m sick of the marches! ‘Hear we go again’ in 2017, still campaigning and hoping for global gender equality. Without a doubt, ‘inexcusable’….

 

Every day for me is a blessing, and for the majority of you reading this, you’ll know how extremely lucky  we are in so many ways. Which is why empathy is so important and I believe plays a huge part in being a good person. (Empathy is the capacity to understand or feel what another person is experiencing from within the other being’s frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another’s position. Empathy is seeing with the eyes of another, listening with the ears of another and feeling with the heart of another). And these comments are proof that many of us are simply lacking basic human empathy.

 

So how serious are the issues anyway? Listen ‘hear‘…

The UN report ‘The World’s Women 2010’ shows just some of the dire gender disparities in current situations:

  • Out of 774 million illiterate adults worldwide, 2 out of 3 are women.
  • 70% of the poorest people in the world are women.
  • Women own 1% of the world’s land.
  • 72 million primary age children are out of education. 54% of these are girls.
  • 2 million women are victims of genital mutilation every year.
  • Approximately 70 million women and children were subject to sex trafficking in Asia in the last ten years.

 

On top of these statistics, our current global refugee crisis means millions more women are without their rights and extremely vulnerable. Although many of you seem to think refugees are flooding in to the UK with hopes to take our jobs and housing, actually 86% of the 65 million refugees are displaced in developing countries like Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon and Ethiopia. Our effort in the U.K today is just one big joke.

 

These are normal people who never imagined that they would be in these circumstances. People who were in education, people with homes and 9-5 jobs. People like you, and people like my own family who fled from Uganda in 1972 leaving their businesses, cars, homes and belongings to come to the UK where they knew no-one, did not know the language and were given sanctuary in centers, all in a cold, snowy winter when they’d never seen snow before! It seems unimaginable, but I think about my own family, then I watch the news and actually it’s extremely real.

 

One of the reasons I struggle to sleep at night and one of the reasons I know I’ll spend my life in these areas of conflict, is simply because I cannot switch off. My mind is constantly thinking about the help we can give, the ways we can give that help, the places we can start, and the people we can start with. It’s normal for me. But for those who are struggling to understand the seriousness of feminism, gender equality and the refugee crisis, for those who maybe don’t feel the same way, ask yourselves for humankind, please find human empathy for the people who are suffering through no fault of their own, who flee their homes and everything they know in fear and terror, for women stuck in detention centers and are unsafe in refugee camps, for girls who will never see inside a classroom, for all refugees in these situations, and for all women around the world and for those women right next to us. Find your hearts for them.

 

We are failing humans on huge scales. We must do more.

 

“I raise up my voice – not so that I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard” – Malala Yousafzai. It’s so important for people like you and me to use our platforms and dare to be bold. So how can you celebrate international women’s day, and what can you do today?

 

  • Spread the word and use your voice through conversations and writing to your MP.
  • Sign a petition or two, or three.
  • Wear red to show support worldwide
  • Follow events from the day all over social media and share, like and use the hashtag #beboldforchange which is this year’s campaign theme.
  • Donate to the many women and refugee organisations.

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

http://www.womenforwomen.org.uk

http://www.careinternational.org.uk

 

And check out these events if you’re London based…

London – Wednesday 8th March, 18:00pm – BE Unplugged ‘Disrupting the Future: Passion, Purpose and Change

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-unplugged-disrupting-the-future-passion-purpose-and-change-tickets-31879903650

London – Saturday 11th March, 12:30pm – Million Women March and Rally

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/million-women-rise-march-and-rally-tickets-32049705532?aff=erelexpmlt

 

Start today and join the movement to promote basic human rights and values #beboldforchange

 

Thank you 🙂

V

The Fashion of Feminism

“We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. You should aim to be successful, but not too successful. Otherwise, you would threaten the man. Because I am female, I am expected to aspire to marriage. I am expected to make my life choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important. Now marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support but why do we teach girls to aspire to marriage and we don’t teach boys the same? We raise girls to see each other as competitors not for jobs or accomplishments, which I think can be a good thing, but for the attention of men. We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.”
― Chimamanda Ngozi AdichieWe Should All Be Feminists

 

So, my second blog is all about, guess what? Gender. Not only because it’s one of my favourite subjects to talk about but because Wednesday 8th March is International Women’s Day. And because I need a distraction from my dissertation which is due in exactly 70 days. Probably not the smartest idea but here we go…

 

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the commercialisation and the trendiness of ‘girl power’ and what it means to be a feminist in 2017. Feminism is finally cool and trendy, but are we missing the point? Feminism is not about hating men and wearing Topshop t-shirts that say ‘girls bite back’. Feminism is the fight for economic, political, social, cultural equality and for the personal and human rights of women worldwide. It’s equality, and choice, and freedom, and opportunity. Feminism is for the girls that get shamed for being virgins, but at the same time shamed for being sluts. Feminism is for the 700 million women alive today that were married before the age of 18. Feminism is for the estimated 60-100 million women and girls literally ‘missing’ from the planet due to infanticide, sex-selective abortion and fatal neglect. Feminism is for all of us. But have we forgotten this?

 

Which is why I’m struggling with the modernity of it all, and although many of you may be surprised, I’m gonna use Beyoncé as my main example. Beyhive, brace yourselves. I feel that the future of feminism and the real reasons for the importance of it all is becoming tedious and silly thanks to mainstream media and the fashion of being a feminist. Are we commodifying the issues and struggles that affect at least 49.6% of the worlds population? I feel that people are buying into the fad of it, but have no real knowledge of the point of being a feminist, or for those who don’t like the term, for the real fight for equality and lives that depend on it.

 

Andi Zeisler talks about the issues with marketplace feminism and the rise of celebrities jumping on the ‘feminist bandwagon’ in her book “We Were Feminists Once”. Here we have a generation of girls completely lapping up everything to do with ‘girl power’, (and don’t get me wrong, I’m digging most of it) but I’d like to think I’m quite educated on the subject and passionate about the issues surrounding gender inequality. Well hopefully, otherwise these last few years at uni were a waste and I need to re-think my whole future career. The issue that I have is that although it’s all well and good that we can showcase our feminism more, how is it actively and affectively changing our situations?

 

Watching Beyoncé at the O2 arena a few years ago nearly bought a tear to my eye. The words FEMINISM in huge letters behind her while she sings about running the world. Amazing. And thanks to her performances, millions of people of all genders, people like me, felt the empowerment and solidarity that feminism is all about. She’s an incredibly strong, powerful and successful woman. But she’s also a successful businesswoman and brand. And the realisation of singing a song, or singing along to a song could be all that we have to offer feminism in a 21st century was pretty poop. Although it could be a start, it’s not enough for the real struggles girls face around the world. Beyoncé is not alone, along with other celebrities, the same could be said for companies such as Always with their #LikeAGirl campaign and Pantenes’ #ShineStrong campaign, companies that are ‘femvertising’ to the fullest. Here we see the rise of hashtag feminism, likes, shares and “stories told in 140 characters”, but where videos like Pantene promotes the ideas that women are too apologetic, while having ‘swishy, shiny hair’, is this fourth wave of feminism selling the fight for feminism or selling their brands in the name of feminism? As Zeisler says “The important thing is to have a degree of literacy about it” which is something that is missing from mainstream media and those following marketplace feminism.

We have come a long way though. People are finally embracing feminism, and celebrities using their platform to promote equality whether it be women’s right or black rights is not all bad surely?

 

The scandal that could suggest where feminism is going wrong is the Ivy Park scandal that we saw last year. Picture this: Beyoncé and her team of all women dancers, on a stage in front of millions, with a speech by the legendary Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the words feminism in bold, big letters behind her, then on comes ‘Who Run The World?’. Meanwhile, in South Asia, are the women workers who are making Beyoncé’s (who has a net worth estimate of £216million) new clothing line ‘Ivy Park’ for Topshop (a net worth estimate of $6.7billion), for an outrageous 52p per hour in cramped conditions where they have restricted freedoms, curfews at night, no kitchen spaces and share with men. My fangirling for Beyoncé was pretty shattered at this point, and everything she did after this including her infamous ‘Lemonade’ album where she supposedly ‘embraces feminism’ but is aggressive, slates other girls, and talk about how ‘bomb her pussy is’, makes me question what on earth she wants us to celebrate. Is feminism just a platform for her and other celebrities and companies to make money and mess with the movement?

 

I’m not about to delete all my Beyoncé and Taylor Swift songs off my itunes, for the same reason I’m not about to stop using Dove when I shower, because as brands and as music artists, I love them, I can’t fault them there. But as feminists? I think they’ve got a few things very wrong.

 

Issues like this, along with analysing some of the many ‘empowering’ songs that even I have on my ‘girl power’ playlist, are some of the reasons why I’m going to ask myself, and you, to challenge the fad of feminism, to do your research, to question the trend, and to remember the importance of the real issues that girls face in the world, just because they are girls.

 

For the 125 million girls who are out of education, for the girls who are growing up in situations where society tells them “It is more profitable to raise geese than a girl” (Yep, a traditional Chinese saying), for your friends, for your sisters, for your mothers, for yourselves, and for everyone, let’s focus on the importance of equality.

 

For those of you that are interested, here are a bunch of documentaries available on Netflix and online that highlight some of the issues girls face:

  • The Hunting Ground
  • Born into Brothels
  • The True Cost
  • India’s Daughter
  • Finding Home
  • Audrie & Daisy
  • Missrepresentation
  • It’s A Girl
  • The Invisible War
  • Half the Sky

 

International Women’s day is next week, Wednesday 8th March. You can join in at these events:

London – Sunday 5th March, 12pm – March 4 Women by Care International

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/march4women-registration-30692401800?aff=erelexpmlt

London – Wednesday 8th March, 18:00pm – BE Unplugged ‘Disrupting the Future: Passion, Purpose and Change

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/be-unplugged-disrupting-the-future-passion-purpose-and-change-tickets-31879903650

London – Saturday 11th March, 12:30pm – Million Women March and Rally

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/million-women-rise-march-and-rally-tickets-32049705532?aff=erelexpmlt

 

https://www.internationalwomensday.com/

 

Thanks for reading guys!

Feedback is appreciated 🙂

xox

Physically turned on, emotionally switched off.

So my first blog is going to be about the issues and questions in the book that I’ve just finished reading, and as a sociologist and more importantly, as a single gal in the 21st century, I have found that the book has left me with more questions and slightly less hope for our generation when it comes to sex, love and modern day dating… poopy.

 

The End of Sex’ by Donna Freitas talks about the hook-up culture that dominates our experiences, ideas and actions in our modern day relationships and connection to sex and intimacy (or lack of!). Freitas surveyed 2,500 students from various American universities, and extensively interviews 111 of these students. Her main mission was to investigate how and why the hook up culture deprives people of opportunities to fulfill true meanings and desire, while holding sex as the main goal, although it ultimately leaves many feeling isolated and lonely. As a consequence of our quest to tolerate the hook-up norm and indulge ourselves in meaningless, sexual experiences, we are “unable to create valuable and real connections.”

 

It’s 2017. Sex is unavoidable. It’s completely commercialised, and can be found everywhere, from the stories of Mr. Grey and his naughty needs to 50 Cent rapping about taking you to his lovely candy shop… for his erm, famous lollipop… and even brands like Abercrombie and Fitch selling slogan tee’s for girls that say ‘who needs brains when you’ve got these?’ Not forgetting the huge influence and  one of the biggest money making industries of our time, porn. Sex is literally everywhere. Thanks to technology, the sexual revolution and women’s empowerment, hooking-up and conversations about sex are more normal than ever. Sex is easy, fun and fast. We have more choice than ever thanks to apps like tinder, match.com, grindr, hinge, zoosk, happn, the list goes on. We have hundreds of men and women at our finger tips, how lucky are we? Does it get better than this infinite choice we now have? What could be better than sex without strings? Do we have it finally figured out, or have we got it completely wrong?

 

As modern day men and women, we have never been more free. Thanks to feminism and the challenging of gender roles and stereotyping, we are able to make whatever choices we like, with who we like (with consent!), with few limitations and with less judgement. So after a day of watching sex and the city, in a world full of choice and freedom, why am I not feeling more empowered?

 

The end of romance?

The hook-up culture is the idea of a ‘no strings attached’, purely physical and sexual encounter with another person. The encounter can vary from a 10 minute make out session, to one night stands and sex with strangers with one of you leaving promptly before breakfast, to that classic booty call on Saturday nights out in the pub where one of you texts ‘sex?’ and you grab a burger, a taxi home together, and the rest you can guess. All fun and games but hook-ups destroy the idea of happily ever after and allow minimal space for intimacy and emotion. The person who allows emotions to enter is betraying the social contract that the hook-up requires. It’s all part of the game. Is it taboo to talk about real feelings in a hook-up situation? Are we foolish to think we can have such interaction without feelings? Is this an emotion free zone? As Freitas highlights “being ‘safe’ within hook-up culture is less about practicing safe sex and more about being able to walk away from sex without any trace of an emotional tug” it seems that to turn on physically, we turn off emotionally.

 

Socially, we have accepted the norms surrounding the hook-up culture. It plays a part in gender and who we are as men and women. One guy in the study of this book referred to hook ups as part of a routine, like eating your bloody cereal every morning, but an important part of what is taught to be a “guy”. This gender hierarchy that exists is fixated around the stereotypes of what it means to be a male, and the pleasure the male gains, while having full support of having as many sexual partners as they like, and the ideas of a submissive female who kinda accepts the situation too. Interestingly, it’s not just women that are oppressed in this supposedly empowering culture, facing the stigma and labels of being ‘too frigid’ or ‘too slutty’, men also face risks regarding masculinity and gender stereotypes, being ‘too emotional or vulnerable’ and along with peer pressure, it’s clear to see the pressures that we all face.

 

Freitas argues that the callousness, robotic-ness, and bleak reality of the hook-up culture is the opposite to being sexual liberated and free. She speaks about how “we prioritise technology over face-to-face interactions, where we are missing how to value the life and body of another human, or what it means to treat others with dignity and respect”. We celebrate “steeliness” and pride ourselves on our ability to harden ourselves against compassion and empathy. Uncaring is so cool, but really, who is it benefiting? So what if we feel? Pre-warning of my criminology side coming out now, and it sounds extreme, but could this have a connection to the reason why rape is a crime crisis showing no signs of decrease, and why 120 million girls worldwide have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts at some point in their lives? (UN Women, 2012)

 

Are we living by contradictions? Raising boys and girls to be empowered, and full of emotion, desire and sexuality but at the same time suppressing and repressing all emotion, care and meaning when it comes to the most intimate form of all human interaction. Do we need to assess these ideas of caring less and that bodies are disposable, and that sex is just sex? Is it harmless or is it dangerous? Is it just the misunderstanding of being overly sexual rather than being ‘sex positive’?

 

It’s not all doom and gloom…

Don’t get me wrong, I love my single life. There is so much fun and excitement in being a modern day single guy or gal, and I’m a big believer in the idea that everyone should experience solitude at some point. Dating is fun especially in a city like London, and meeting new people and making new memories make for great life experiences (and good stories!). It’s not all bad, and there’s huge positives to our openness with sex. We’ve come a long way from the Victorian Era, that’s for sure.

 

But is Freitas right when she says that within the hook-up culture, no one really wins? Is silencing your feelings and real desires destroying our chances of finding fulfilling and long lasting romantic relationships? “It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy where nobody goes on real dates, because nobody thinks they want to date, and these cycles go round and round feeding the perpetuation of the hook-up culture” lol how ridiculous does that sound? Should we start being more critical with this phenomenon and start looking at the lack of basic interpersonal skills, and the idea that we’re still missing something so important to human interaction and behaviour from these experiences? Are we missing real opportunities because we’re so fixed on the notion of being ‘care-free’ and anti-relationship?

 

Happily ever after…?

Freitas studies suggest that although the hook-up culture is well and truly a part of our social lives, eventually people reject it. The ‘wake-up experience’ felt after a realisation of physical and emotional exhaustion, is a commonality. Eventually, people feel emptied out. And the emotional awareness is felt again (yay!), along with the realisation of the paradoxical behaviour and the need to feel what we all ultimately want in life… (thanks to Hollywood, the fairy-tale story books, Ed Sheeran and the rest of it) …meaningful love and sex.

It’s kind of a funny story….

 

For those that know me, will know how much I hate the idea of blogs, and how much I rant about them…yet here I am, writing my a blog.

 

Earlier on this week I found myself in a huge pickle (not literally, euw?!). I was reading a blog about something that is extremely close to my heart and it lacked real argument, was poorly written and left me feeling deflated about the hopes of our future and the subject matter.

 

As a student in my last year of university, it’s really hard for me to read things that lack facts and proper literacy. Although, this is what blogging is all about, right? It can be as informal or formal as the blogger wishes, it can be opinion, it can be a rant, it can be completely professional, and anyone can do it. Blogging definitely has its pros and cons.

 

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s amazing that anyone can pick up their laptop, write a page about their day and inspire people all over the world. Blogging is amazing for connecting with others, inspiring others and just generally sharing experiences and stories. If you have the time and commitment, writing a blog can be self-satisfying and something you do, just for yourself!

 

I think the thing I struggled with was reading something that isn’t just about the breakfast I ate that morning or where my outfit that I wore last Friday was from, but something that I have real knowledge and passion about. And this is when I thought, well if anyone can write about this and people are reading it, imagine writing something with actual knowledge and spreading that real awareness and truth with strangers all over the world?!

 

Which is why I’m here! I’m a walking contradiction and I’m starting a blog…..

 

I hope to write about all my passions and interests, including travel, international development, social issues, gender equality and poverty, as well as a bit about my everyday thoughts and rants I guess!  Fully aware that this blog is one of millions but I hope whoever is reading this that you’ll learn a little and enjoy reading my posts.

 

Have a good day everyone 🙂

Vanisha

xox

 

(And below is my little face somewhere in Asia last summer!)

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