anon submission

Purging is very literally a prison; the bars are self-doubt and a nagging anxiety that grows stronger by the second, fed by indecision and a gnawing unhappiness that happily eats away at your mind. When I purge, I see stars. My whole body is on fire and I feel worse than I did before I purged.

This particular purge was spurred onward by a lacerating comment made on the topic of my body, circa 11am. My heart jolted at the comment and I felt my palms sweat. I tugged on my shirt and pulled on my skirt to cover my larger-than-life legs, life giving legs. My throat constricted and my eyes watered. Why did I care so much? I felt my breakfast turn in my stomach as I made my way to the quietest bathroom on campus.

In primary school, before I understood what it meant not to love your body, I remember going to the swimming carnival. I remember taking off my towel to the attention and whispers of my peers who in turn proceeded to make jokes and snarky comments. I remember feeling stricken as an undying shame took root in my very bones.

I spent the rest of the carnival locked in one of the bathroom stalls refusing to come out, and the school administration had to phone my mum to coax me out. My mother has always been supportive of me, and she let me cry my eyes out, soaking the fabric of her shirt, I don’t think I had ever felt as safe. After I had calmed down however, my mum sat me down and tried to explain to me how I was feeling and why I was feeling the way I did, and why the other kids reacted the way in which they did.

“You’ve got a little bit of extra weight on you, and that’s not what other girls normally look like. That’s why they were being mean. If you just lost a bit of weight then this wouldn’t happen.”

I know she had the best of intentions, but as a naive and impressionable nine-year-old, I took her word for gospel. I began to obsess and feel self-conscious. Wherever I went I felt huge, and every time I would forget my anxiety and enjoy my food a bit too much, my family and peers would look on with distaste and judgement, especially because I wasn’t losing any weight.

According to the Australian Parenting website, “Children as young as five or six are likely to have concerns about their body shape if they watch music videos or look at magazines targeting an older audience.” This is exacerbated if these same notions and ideas surrounding beauty and body image are reproduced through their experiences with family and their peers.

At age 16 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a common illness in women that causes late or non-existent menstruation and can often inhibit weight loss. According to my GP, I had to either have the cysts removed or try to treat it with copious amounts of medication. I fell into a habit of doing all in my power to change, everything from diet pills to the ‘pill’ and herbal medicine. I could not for the life of me, reconcile how I felt with how I looked. This inconsistency haunted me and I spiralled.

Body image issues are often written off as self-esteem issues, despite their link to anxiety and depression. According to social worker Gina Dimitropoulos, stigmas surrounding eating disorders and mental illnesses often pivot around the central notion of self-infliction, that suffers are responsible for their problems as they have a choice in whether or not they engage in those behaviours. Stigma itself affects every aspect of an individual’s life.  

According to Dimitropoulos, stigma “robs people of their dignity, increases isolation, reduces self-esteem and contributes to a decline in one’s quality of life”. Often it is this very same stigma that ensnares victims into a fearful silence of being shamed and rejected by their families or peers because of their disorder.

It was this consistent and vindictive cycle that lead me down a figurative black hole, diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder, all before the age of 21. The psychologist tried his hardest to explain what was happening to me and how I could try and pull myself out of the hole I had fallen into, but for the first couple of years I was pretty content with just dosing up on meds and drugs to keep me happy. Those around me lacked enough knowledge and information on eating disorders to help me and often felt like they had to tread on eggshells around me – afraid that I might explode and undermine all my progress.

Eating disorders are serious and can take away your voice and the voice of those around you. What I said and how I presented myself often did not resonate with how I felt. It was this numbing silence that allowed me to deteriorate. If I could give advice to anyone suffering from an eating disorder, or even just disparaging sadness, I would tell them to try to understand what they’re feeling and accept that it is a part of them. Denying it doesn’t make it go away and staying silent doesn’t make it hurt any less.

Sometimes I have really good days when I look in the mirror and think ‘look at you, you sexy beast’ but getting to that place is an uphill dredge through every image I see that does not reflect my kind of beauty. A beauty that hides and peers up and around the folds and creases of the map that is my skin. A collected experience that houses a fragile, but absolutely exquisite mind like mine.

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In ‘The Second Sex’, Beauvoir sees romantic love as integral to women’s subordination. Identify and critically discuss the main points of Beauvoir’s argument, considering how relevant her position is to romantic relationships in the twenty-first century.

During the context of Simone De Beauvoir’s writing, the concept of romantic love as integral to the subordination of women was inherently accurate because of the definitive restrictions placed on women through familial restrictions and obedience to traditional patriarchal structures. Beauvoir argues for the constant struggle between the immanence of women and the inherent transcendence that men do not have to work hard to achieve. The concept of nature v’s nurture and the infantilisation of women as well as the notions surrounding production and reproduction, female sexuality and its relationship between eroticism and narcissism. I will personally seek to argue that Beauvoir’s arguments do not necessarily pertain as much relevance and applicability in modern-day contemporary contexts, mainly due to the rise and aims of feminist movements in contemporary culture as well as the gradual opening of opportunities in other fields for women. Contemporary romantic relationships themselves are often more complex and translate themselves to be more equal partnerships than those in historical contexts, although most of her arguments fail to become truly reconcilable in 21st Century romantic relationships, her theories and ideas do still however, underpin quite a few anomalies that still exist within both romantic relationships and popular culture.

Simone de Beauvoir argues for the notion that women desire romantic love in order to achieve the transcendence that all men are inherently born with. It is this transcendence that is achieved completely separate from any other individual, it is publicly observed through societal understandings of selfhood and its historical relevance to the value an individual can offer based upon their gender (Beauvoir, 1942).. Beauvoir uses immanence to describe the historical domain attached to the understanding of being a woman and inherently feminine. Transcendence however, is assigned to their male counterparts who have the ability to extend outward in the universe, unlike a woman’s ability to achieve any form of transcendence as an individual. She argues that ‘Man’s love is of man’s life a thing apart, ‘tis a woman’s whole existence’, this statement opens up the dialogue about the ideas of romantic love and what they mean to each respective gender in this context, Man is able to exist separately from love, because he is invested in different ventures and projects, but woman is only traditionally invested in love and transcendence that was popularly understood to be achieved through Man. Beauvoir argues that it is for this reason that women prioritise romantic love more than their male counterparts because of their desire to be ‘complete’ and more importantly, transcendent. This is also demonstrated in the quote “the woman who has not repressed her claim to humanity will dream of transcending her being towards one of these superior beings, of amalgamating herself with a sovereign object’, Beauvoir explores the concept of romantic love as initiated by a woman’s desire to depend on a ‘God’ rather than on ‘tyrants’. When this particular concept is applied to contemporary concepts however, it does not always resonate with great truth or sincerity, contemporary contexts no longer demand that women operate as ‘dependents’ upon the wills and desires of a ‘sovereign subject’ (Beauvoir, 1942).. Kristen Oganowski in her work ‘Centralising Ambiguity: Simone de Beauvoir and a Twenty-First Century Ethics’, these same ideas are explored through a more critical perspective. Oganowski argues that Beauvoir’s ideas around intimacy and the ambiguity of the human situation fails to take into account the conception of relational autonomy and individual freedom to deviate from social norms. Beauvoir’s work is often perceived as a historical anachronism, relevant in the context of her work and its conceptions, but fail to take into account changing social norms and trends that disable Beauvoir’s work from pertaining as much relevance in contemporary contexts. The twenty-first century sees some major irrelevancies and flaws in this idea and notion of transcendence and immanence. Many women have already branched out into the workforce and despite significant wage-gaps, are able to fund their own independent lifestyles and ventures. Love is still an integral part of the human experience, however, the way in which women fundamentally experience love is changing through a series of constant changing social trends, like the increasingly popular feminist movement, the less-accepted practice of arranged marriages, education and entering into the workforce of women and the saturation of popular culture that depicts many more independent and transcendent women. These centralised factors contribute the constant developing and changing ideas and notions surrounding what it means to be a woman in the 21st Century.

Simone De Beauvoir argues for the idea that neither males nor females are born with the inherent traits of their respective genders, but rather their continued and relentless socialisation is responsible for the development of their gender-specific characteristics. Beauvoir describes ‘Male domination’ as neither ‘inherent nor fated’ and in the same capacity women are not born as passive and immanent. These characteristics are educated and conditioned in order to ensure the hierarchical nature of gender itself. Simone de Beauvoir argues that girls and women are conditioned to believe that in order to be attractive to men, a woman must be vulnerable, passive and she must be unthreatening and unassuming and adopt almost childlike qualities and traits. Beauvoir discusses the infantilisation of women as being instrumental in their suppression and objectification. This childlike expression of femininity also closely relates to the notion of immanence v’s transcendence, as the lackings of women in their feminine characteristics are very much compensated for by the dominant and transcendent male archetype. This is important to note because it only further serves to purport the harmful status quo of inequality in society and contemporary contexts. The idea of nature v’s nurture, as discussed by Beauvoir is significant because the 21st century context is an example of substantial changes in society as brought about through numerous feminist movements, however numerous ideas surrounding gender binaries very much still exist although to a lesser extent then when ‘The Second Sex’ was written. Whilst Beauvoir’s work on nature v’s nurture holds great significance in contemporary society because of the malleable nature of childhood, it is still clear that the relevancy of Beauvoir’s work is somewhat lessening, this is not to suggest that the work of Simone de Beauvoir should be afforded less legitimacy, but the centralised ideas and notions outlined in her work surrounding gender and conformity were written in the context of her time and therefore should not be expected to outlast continued and relentless changing social trends. These concepts of relevancy and context are also explored through Beauvoir’s work on production v’s reproduction and the nature of female sexuality and the different ideas surrounding eroticism v’s narcissism.

In Beauvoir’s understanding of productivity and reproduction, she articulates that women are reviled for their ability to reproduce, this is seen as one of the biggest issues for the female situation. The ideas surrounding productivity for women often have to be relinquished to those of reproduction because her productive capacity is often understood as significantly less than the value of her ability to reproduce. A woman’s ability to actively contribute to labour and productivity of the economy of the society in which she lives is automatically restricted through her status as a woman. Beauvoir finally argues that productivity and reproductive capacities should not be mutually exclusive, but rather have the ability to exist simultaneously. ‘Woman is neither exclusively a worker nor exclusively a womb’ (Beauvoir, 1942).

Throughout history, woman has been enslaved to her reproductive function. Her life to the present has been an uninterrupted succession of pregnancies, and her contributions to society have been restricted to her womb. Technology has failed to incorporate woman into the workplace, for she must still juggle the burdens of childbearing and childrearing unassisted, an impossible task for even the most energetic mothers. For woman to achieve more than liberation and enter the workplace as man’s equal, the nuclear family must be reconfigured so that she is able to leave the home. Social stigmas against unwed mothers and abortion must be lifted to allow woman to take charge of her own pregnancies and control her own life. Though it is important for woman to be permitted to participate in work, it is more important for her to be integrated into the “totality of human reality” to become a true partner to man.

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some of my favourite sketches

This gallery contains 2 photos.

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unashamedly unashamed

To tower and command, infiltrate and conquer,

My space, the space that continued to tighten around me like a noose –

Noose of rope, constricting, rolling like black waves,

to drown, drown my resistance.

My voice shook but never wavered as I spoke –

Impassioned and Indignant,

that I would be both woman and human.

That my alone-ness was taken as an opportunity,

I was reduced to being a receptacle.

A door to a room that would never be mine,

A cog in a wheel that chugged and chugged onward –

Onward to a place I dared not tread.

That I should have to protect myself

because my body is a battleground

where undesirables can stake their claims.

Where I should expect a war

And prepare for an invasion.

a body expected to bow and yield

Yield the treasures of my company.

But I refuse to yield,

I refuse to cower

Because my body is my own.

I will fear no shame

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Pipe Down the Whiteness

Discussions of race, gender and sexuality are usually featured in the peripheries of popular culture. Jenji Kohan’s new television series Orange is the New Black attempts to unpack these issues in an accessible way, which is exactly what is incredibly problematic. Whilst I genuinely enjoy watching Orange is the New Black (OITNB), the very notion that the show’s creators believed that OITNB should explore and unpack race through the perspective of a white, middle class woman is irritatingly familiar and disappointing.

On numerous occasions the show’s writer and creator Jenji Kohan has expressed the utility of the protagonist, Piper, as a ‘Trojan Horse’ in lessening the stigma of discussing race in a public forum. However, as a result, audiences can be ‘tricked’ into caring about the issues that Women of Colour face, when in reality we should be celebrating movies and TV series that have protagonists that are people of colour. However, show itself provides an amazing platform for a range of different women of different races and sexualities to share their stories.

Like many TV series, it’s very easy to sympathise with Piper, a white, middle class, bisexual woman who is incarcerated for smuggling drug money. But as the series progressed I found myself skipping her needlessly self indulgent antics, and instead found myself falling in love with characters that I felt were more relatable as a person of colour.

In particular the portrayal of Gloria Mendoza, played by Selenis Leyva, as a passionate and protective Latina was a character I finally felt represented a part of my culture that I hadn’t seen on television before. In an interview with Refinery29, Leyva advocated for the Latin American community, discussing how many of the roles that were originally intended for Latina women were often played by White women, and how the entire spectrum of Latina women of different descent, shape, size, colour and shade should not be pigeonholed into Hollywood’s narrow definition.

OITNB does an amazing job at telling the much-needed stories of people of colour, but the centralised problem lies within its main context. OITNB is set in a women’s prison, where the ratio of Women of Colour versus the ratio of white women is severely unbalanced. We expect Women of Colour to outnumber white women in prisons, because women of colour are criminals and are highly invested in crime. OITNB feeds surreptitiously into this harmful narrative where Piper is a ‘Fish out of Water,’ as it would be unheard of for a White women to ‘belong’ in a prison. Thereby, Women of Colour become the inevitable collateral damage. This is the most harmful and threatening aspect of the Latin/African American Prison narrative, which is often taken as the norm.

This all comes together and makes clear the struggle that Women of Colour continuously face, the constant mitigation and concessions of the implications of how Men of Colour and White people see us.

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Reserving the right to be unapologetic

Its the first time I’ve posted in along time!

reading through my blog from circa 2014 I’ve noticed that a lot of the views I held I no longer hold or rather I’ve adapted my ideas and opinions (also improved my grasp on grammar).

Its an interesting thought to see how someone can change so much in the span of 2 years. I’m still a feminist, but I’ve quelled the rage a bit – but perhaps become a bit snarkier and definitely more eloquent. 🙂

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“We need to rec…

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”

– Caitlin MoranHow to Be a Woman

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Hiatus somewhat explained

So a lot of you may or may not have noticed that I’ve taken a bit of a break in my angry/passive aggressive rants; no, I’m still quite livid, I just have a lot going on at the moment, but I will try to keep updating soon and thank you for bearing with me (y).

 

 

Thanks guys!!
V.

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Feminism is not a Dirty Word

An exceptional article written by one of the Lecturers at the University of Sydney, by far one of the most understanding and engaging articles that I’ve read in a long time!

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Sexism and Misogyny in Advertising

Sexism and Misogyny in Advertising

‘what the fuck does a car have to do with a wom*n’s ass’
– Vanessa C Song

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