Archive for March, 2010

  • Is feminism a dirty word?

    It’s International Women’s Day on March 8th. With this in mind, perhaps it’s important to address the taboo of feminism amongst our generation. Why are so many young people reluctant to declare themselves as feminists? You’d think it would be common place in this day and age, given the extensive protests, essays, literature and general awareness we’ve witnessed from feminist movements over the past 100 years. But there’s a stereotype surrounding the word- one that conjures up images of angry, man hating, bra burning, dungaree clad women with hairy armpits. Singer-songwriter Marina Diamandis, also known as Marina and The Diamonds, summed it up when she recently tweeted:

    “I like how women wrinkle their noses when asked ‘Would you call yourself a feminist?’…
    It’s more fashionable to be sexually empowered than “intellectually” empowered, it seems.”

    It could be said that the feminist battle has already been won. Women have the right to a university education, access to high power jobs, the right to vote… the list goes on. But it would be absurd to suggest women and men are now equal. What isn’t absurd is to suggest that we still live in a patriarchal society. A society where young women are indoctrinated with digitally enhanced and airbrushed celebrities, told they’re not good enough, and advised to spend as much money as possible to achieve perfection. A society that finds its young women overtly sexualised from an uncomfortably young age, and judged, first and foremost, on their physical appearance. If that’s not patriarchal, I don’t know what is.  A government funded report recently attracted a lot of attention from the press, earning comments from Gordon Brown and David Cameron. Both agreed that the sexualisation of children must stop. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to suggest that this immense peer pressure on girls and women to look attractive in order to gain approval from their peers is down to the constant, aggressive barrage of images we’re all subjected to through popular culture- in particular, the celebrities we admire. Sure, these celebs are very talented, but looking perfect is top of their list of priorities. The unobtainable look has become the norm, and any female in the industry slightly left of beautiful is an anomalous phenomenon. Susan Boyle proves this.

    Take a step back and asses the situation. What’s happened to common sense? As children we were warned never to judge a book by its cover. Good looks do not equal a good person. When did beauty become an accurate measure of self worth?

    In a lot of ways, this is a boring, tired old argument, one that’s been debated time and time again. But doesn’t the fact that the issue won’t go away confirm how big a problem it is? Feminism has always been about empowering and equipping females with the opportunities and education to better themselves.

    In reality, there is no stereotype that can define a feminist. Feminists definitely aren’t ‘anti man’. If you believe in equality, you believe in feminism. It’s as simple as that.

    For more information, visit www.thefword.org.uk or http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

  • An open letter to BBC3

    I used to feel confident in trusting the BBC. I and many others my age enjoyed our late 90s childhood years. We were quite comfortably over saturated with CBBC’s after school entertainment- the eye catching, bright colours, the chirpy, spirited young presenters who seems to relate to us all so well. It suited our demographic well and I don’t think any of us, at 8 years old, had any complaints.

    However, we are not children anymore. The BBC’s mission statement maintains that they aim to ‘enrich people’s lives with programmes that inform, educate and entertain’. All very well. Considering the BBC’s diverse range of media outlets are aimed at an all inclusive modern day Britain, I can only assume that, in the case of BBC3, these programmes have been carefully designed for idiots. Let’s not beat about the bush here- it’s pretty much an ‘either/or’ situation.

    BBC3 seems to take the BBC’s mission statement and manipulate it ever so slightly; instead of these programmes being informative, educational and entertaining, they are educational or informative or entertaining. And, lets not forget, BBC3’s definition of entertaining is dubious at best. As students, we fit rather neatly into the channel’s suspiciously vague 15-34 year old target audience demographic.  Essentially, BBC3’s target audience age range may contribute heavily to the core of the problem. The rather loosely grouped ages 15-34 tends to span from under eighteens to those well established into adulthood, and all those tricky years in between. What do BBC3 choose to feed these fertile, tumultuous, rapidly expanding young minds?  Well it seems that if you’re aged 15 to 34 and you find yourself suddenly and urgently concerned about Danny Dyer’s opinions on the existence of aliens, BBC3 is your first point of call. To put it simply, almost all of their programmes are so incredulously cretinous that I often wonder, whilst watching, if BBC3 are actually just playing some kind of cruel joke on me. The informative ‘Don’t Get Screwed’ is a programme consisting of consumer law set to a Top Of The Pops soundtrack and fronted by vacant looking pretty people who appear to be suspiciously dead behind the eyes. Then there’s the relatively new ‘Hotter Than My Daughter’ series- a makeover show presented by a forgotten member of a forgotten girl band that pits mothers and daughters against each other in a bid to look the most attractive.

    Get your act together BBC3, because I am not informed, not educated and certainly not entertained by these poor excuses for television programmes. Of course, it’s important not to forget BBC3’s educational documentaries, but even then, they’re fronted by a presenter with celebrity credentials in order to drag in more ratings. As far as I can remember, BBC3’s origins were rooted in showcasing sharp, young British comedy and drama. Although these gems still sparkle on their listings, it’s now rare. There appears to be such a lack in quality British programming for young people- in turn giving way to vapid, soulless, condescending MTV style programming for the masses. Is this the way forward for youth television?