Diversity Barbie raising her voice.

So Mattel has just announced that it will model a doll after Zendaya Coleman (the awesome chick who had this cutting response to Giuliana Rancic’s dig at her dreadlocks looking like they smelt like weed):

zendaya quote

This is a huge leap for a brand that has been squarely seated in the white privileged blond space for many decades. Hopefully this is the beginning of diversity in the Barbie range and not just a short term fix for a lack of relevance with today’s multicultural and aware society.

I’m excited to be a part of the new direction the Barbie brand is headed, specifically how they are celebrating diversity in the line and encouraging kids to raise their voices.

When I was little, I couldn’t find a Barbie that looked like me. My… how times have changed. Thank you @barbie for this honor and for allowing me to be apart of your diversification and expansion of the definition of beauty. Can’t wait to keep doing amazing things with you.

zendaya barbie doll

Read more >

Rewarding progress.

Diversity was the theme of the day at the 2015 Emmy’s. A few small steps add up to make positive change on female, racial and transgender rights.

  1. Viola Davis: “The only thing that separates women of colour from anyone else is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there.”
  2. #AskHerMore meant less ‘who are you wearing’ and more ‘who do you admire’ questions on the red carpet
  3. Andy Samberg called out Donald Trump on his racism
  4. ‘The Amys’ called out the ‘Worst Dressed’ coverage for what it really is
  5. Jon Hamm told it like it was: “People look back on those days through a thick veil of nostalgia, but life was hard if you were anything other than a rich, powerful, white male.”
  6. Uzo Aduba wins for OITNB, again!
  7. Jill Soloway: “People need to make an attempt to find identify and nurture people of colour, women, trans people, queer people, and include them in the creative process.”
  8. Jeffrey Tambor: “I’d like to dedicate my performance and this award to the transgender community. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your stories. Thank you for our inspiration. Thank you for letting us be part of the change.”

And here’s to more change.

Read the full article.

Discussion leads to change.

When Emma Watson is tweeting your response to a Tumblr question about how ‘white feminism’ might exclude women of colour and non cis/queer women with the comment “This is called ‘hitting the nail on the head’.” you know you’ve made a pretty solid point.

Actress Rowan Blanchard is a 13-year-old actress from Disney’s Girl Meets World and makes some very excellent points on what equality actually means:

…With as many issues as feminists have succeeded in adopting, many of us seem to have not accepted the fact that police brutality and race issues are our issues too.

“White feminism” forgets all about intersectional feminism. The way a black woman experiences sexism and inequality is different from the way a white woman experiences sexism and inequality. Likewise with trans-women and Hispanic women.

The fact that when Amandla Stenberg wrote this beautiful and truthful piece she was automatically labeled the “angry black girl” says enough. We are so quick to applaud white women for commenting on race issues/discussions like #BlackLivesMatter, and #SayHerName, but when a black girl comments on it- she is told she is overreacting or being angry.

To only acknowledge feminism from a one sided view when the literal DEFINITION is the equality of the sexes is not feminism at all. We need to be talking about this more. Discussion leads to change. 

Read the full post on Rowan’s blog >

Racism? That’s a dirty word, no it’s certainly not that.

Being in a position of power where you are able to broadcast your views and opinions to national Australia is something that should require great delicacy, respect and critical review and consideration of all perspectives.

Unfortunately with this current treatment of Adam Goodes, those in power are not highlighting and educating wider Australia on our deeply-rooted racism, and are instead trying to sweep it under the rug.

Charlie Pickering’s review below sums it up quite nicely, thank you Pickering for using your voice for awareness and education.

This saga is entirely racially motivated. To pretend otherwise is to deny that racism against Aboriginal Australians exists; it’s to deny the wounds of our racist history and how the scars continue to fester into the present.

Read more >

I am Cait, hear me roar.

I haven’t seen the first episode of ‘I Am Cait’ – yet. But from everything that this review reports on it I can’t wait, not just to watch it myself, but to see how this will normalise and educate the public on transgender people both in the US and globally.

Firstly, though tough but legitimate question is asked:

Will a network known for Keeping Up with the Kardashians and other, lighter fare handle this story properly?

And the answer is…

At least for the series’ first episode, I Am Cait is a smash success, both in spite of its reality show format and because of it.

It is simultaneously educational and informative, gentle and transgressive. It takes time to teach its audience about trans issues, through the conduit of Jenner talking to her family.

The show is so soft, you can forget how revolutionary seeing a trans woman’s story being told on TV really is.

Read more >

Fuck all other types of forests.

Matt McGorry – aka, Officer Bennett from Orange Is The New Black – has posted a great response to the attack of the ‘#BlackLivesMatter’ hashtag with ‘#AllLivesMatter’.

#BlackLivesMatter – was launched to bring attention to the number of black men, women and children who’ve died as a result of police brutality, and to condemn the systemic racism in America’s law enforcement.

In recent months, the ‘#AllLivesMatter’ response has bandwagoned on the original hashtag’s momentum, under the guise of some truth-telling inclusivity.

Matt McGorry

Some people think they are being more inclusive by saying #AllLivesMatter in response to #BlackLivesMatter but in reality, they’re (un)consciously undermining the purpose of the movement. Because this PARTICULAR movement is about SPECIFIC issues, as any decently effective movement is.

Read the full Twitter and FB post >

Make-up artists, please carry Bobbi Brown skin foundation ‘Espresso’.

You may have seen the beautiful Nykhor Paul, a fashion modelfrom South Sudan, fill up your news feed recently. She has called out makeup artists for being ill-prepared to work with dark-skinned models and with many brand now catering for women of colour, there’s little excuse for professional makeup artists to not carry make-up for darker complexions.

Why do I have to bring my own makeup to a professional show when all the other white girls don’t have to do anything but show up wtf! Don’t try to make me feel bad because I am blue black its 2015 go to Mac, Bobbi Brown, Makeup forever, Iman cosmetic, black opal, even Lancôme and Clinique carried them plus so much more. there’s so much options our there for dark skin tones today. A good makeup artist would come prepare and do there research before coming to work because often time you know what to expect especially at a show! Stop apologizing it’s insulting and disrespectful to me and my race it doesn’t help, seriously! Make an effort at least!

I’m tired of complaining about not getting book as a black model and I’m definitely super tired of apologizing for my blackness!!!! Fashion is art, art is never racist it should be inclusive of all not only white people, shit we started fashion in Africa and you modernize and copy it! Why can’t we be part of fashion fully and equally?

Read the full article >

To all my Queens in the house.

So I saw Magic Mike XXL on the weekend and have been scouring the web (and by that I mean I clicked on the second page of google results) for a well constructed review of the feminist and racial undertones of the newest Magic Mike.

I struggled to find anything that articulates my thoughts on the movie in this context – that both celebrates it for its racial, age and ‘all body types’ inclusiveness with a focus on the deeper level of sexuality that many (not all) women need to be turned on,  but also acknowledges that it does feel a little superficial in its exploration; let’s go to a strip club that’s full of all African American women, and give lap dances to several overweight women (by hollywood standards), but ensure the main female love interest is a skinny white female (but having said that is bisexual in the film soooo again is inclusive, ugh I’m confused).

Some quotes from one review that stood out to me here:

I think it’s appalling that for a long time only women were objectified, but I think if we really want to advocate for equality, it’s important to even things out. Not objectify women less, but objectify men just as often as we objectify women. – Chris Pratt

No one does sex for women well — not in film and not on TV. Women are accustomed to seeing distorted images of themselves reflected back by way of the male gaze, but media that operates from the nexus of a woman’s desire is still so rare – Jill Soloway

You begin to see that “the female gaze” may not just consist of the camera panning down the male body, or putting women in traditionally male roles, but also about embracing aesthetic preferences that disrupt linear, conflict- and violence-ridden storytelling structures with lingering romantic awkwardness, offbeat humor, earnest themes, and occasionally fanciful song and dance routines that defy reality.

But hey, how much less realistic is solving a plot problem via choreography than solving one through blowing things up, after all, and walking away casually? The point is, the doorway is widening. And the more diverse ways we have of telling mainstream stories, the more likely audiences  will find something that speaks to them, irregardless of gender expression or identity.

I also aligned with some elements of this article in terms of encouraging men to watch these kind of videos to address the whole ‘teach men not to rape’ argument.

Too many men, I fear, do not know what the face of a joyfully turned-on woman looks like. Moreover, too many men do not care. “Smile,” they leer at her, as she walks by on the street. Not because she looks sad, but because she is not pretending to be happy. Because she is not outwardly focused on presenting an appealing facade.

Perhaps these men have been told, too many times over by too many movies, books, stories, rock songs, that their own desire is paramount, and that women are the ones who must strive to stroke, as it were, their egos. Perhaps they’ve been told that “sexy” is something women do at men and for men, but never for themselves.

I am tired, so tired, of the onus being put on rape and sexual assault victims and survivors to prevent their own abuse and harassment. I believe, as deeply as I believe anything, that the solution to rape culture is to teach men to treat women like people, and not only to value their enthusiastic consent but to derive their own incredible pleasure from it.

But I have (too) often wondered: How? How, when so many stories we tell about romance and sex fail to show this version of empathetic, differently empowered masculinity to the men who need to see it most. Magic Mike XXL is the narrative I’ve—we’ve—been looking for.

And in case you think I live under some sort of feminist rock, I of course read Roxanne Gay’s review and while a fabulous read (alert, spoilers!) I do still feel if we’re critically analysing the film, it was a little 101 (hello, Mike just happens to drop into conversation he believes God is a woman? Is this really necessary for the plot line or more likely a conveniently dropped in feminist stance to win over all the women in the audience [and it worked]?).

And just because it appeals to Roxanne (and myself, and millions of other women’s) ideas of sexuality, doesn’t mean it’s all encompassing for every woman’s desire or pleasure (and the movie doesn’t need to be condemned for this but it’s important this is acknowledged). Still, I for the most part agree with Roxanne, namely:

Jada Pinkett is flawless in this movie. She is utterly flawless and sexy and charismatic and I hope she gets the bigger roles she deserves.

And most certainly:

Rome warns the audience at the convention that women not on birth control should proceed to the nearest exit because some grown woman shit is about to go down. She ain’t never lied. Grown woman shit is exactly what goes down. I feel like I got a little bit pregnant (quadruplets, probably) from what happened next.

In summary, go watch. You’ll likely enjoy it (just don’t focus on the storyline too much, the gyrating and stimulated sex by Channing Tatum and Joe Manganiello to music like Nine Inch Nails ‘Animal’ makes up for it, I promise 😉

Teaching the next generation.

Kids are impressionable, we all know this. And while it can sometimes be cute when a little one repeats a swear word they heard a family member utter accidentally in frustration, what is not cute is a child repeating racist thinking they’ve been taught by intolerant parents.

This is what happened to sweet Samara Muir, a three-year-old Aboriginal girl who has been all over social media for an incident in Melbourne last month where she was dressed up at a Disney event and was racially abused.

The lady in front of us turned around to Samara and said ‘I don’t know why you’re dressed up for because Queen Elsa isn’t black’

I asked the woman what she meant by the comment and then one of the woman’s young daughters screwed up her face, she pointed at Samara and said ‘you’re black and black is ugly’.

Apparently Samara then tried to scrub her skin white and refused to go to her Aboriginal dance classes.

But in tolerant and multicultural way of most of Australia, her story has raised huge support and she is now proud of who she is and is encouraging other little girls and boys to be proud of who they are too.

Read more >

Not a girl, not quite a man.

ruby rose

ruby 2Swoon, swoon, swoon. I have a massive girl crush on Ruby Rose (as do now most heterosexual women thanks to OITNB) and have admired her courage to talk openly about being gender fluid (not identifying with either gender) and her commitment to using her exposure to educate people on gender fluidity, with awareness and education helping to breed acceptance.

I’m not a guy; I don’t really feel like a woman, but obviously I was born one. So, I’m somewhere in the middle, which – in my perfect imagination – is like having the best of both sexes.

I have a lot of characteristics that would normally be present in a guy and then less that would be present in a woman. But then sometimes I’ll put on a skirt.

Only adding to her achievement list of positive influence on the transgender movement, Rose and her fiancee Phoebe Dahl are launching a gender fluid, gender neutral clothing range called Scallywags.

Read more >

Feminism in the age of Miley Cyrus.

An older article but still appropriately relevant and I thought worth highlighting a few choice quotes.

There is space for all women, for all identities, within the feminist movement. Fellow musician Amanda Palmer put it brilliantly when she said, in her own open letter,

“…there needs to be room on the vast playing field for Adele to wear a conservative suit, room for Lady Gaga to do naked performance art in the woods, room for PJ Harvey to wear high-collared 18th-century jackets on stage, room for Natasha Kahn to pose boldly naked on the cover of her last record, and room for Miley to rip a page out of stripper culture and run around like a maniac for however long she wants to.”

We are too complex to be placed into boxes. We understand that there is no right way to “do feminism.” We are allowed to pick on each other. We are allowed to question the ways that other women express themselves. But we are not allowed to disrespect them.

Miley’s feminism may not be yours, but it is one of ours. Feminism has changed. It is intersectional. We are people. We are women. Some of us want to beat the system, some of us want to change it, some of us want nothing to do with it, but the point of the women’s movement was to ensure that we have that choice.

Read the full article at Bustle >

For the youngest people in the room.

Tavi Gevinson

For those of you #killingit in your careers at a (comparatively) young age, the next time some ageist sod makes a dismissive comment on your abilities – because you’re younger than everyone else in the room – remember how eloquently Tavi Gevinson (The Style Rookie) responded to ageist remarks regarding her talents:

That young people don’t have valid thoughts about the world because they haven’t been alive long enough is sadly a very popular and, frankly, unoriginal sentiment.

When I think about that time, I was just responding to the world around me. And I was perceptive enough that I felt like I could make connections to things in my life.

I don’t think it was abstract. And I am basically skeptical of any adults who have those kinds of things to say about young people because it seems to always very transparently stem from fear and insecurity.

Bazinga!

Read the quote that instigated this response  here >

A carefully curated wall of light and positivity.

Luna-Lovegood-Wallpaper-luna-lovegood-25518129-1024-768

Wow this is great! So eloquently put. Evanna Lynch (the actress who plays Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter films) wrote what is essentially an essay schooling homophobic followers and banishing them from her social profiles.

Some choice snippets below.

I don’t want your poison all over my carefully curated wall of light and positivity.

It is possible to not like the idea of homosexuality, to find it a wholly alien, uncomfortable concept and to not impose this view on the people it affects and above all to not shame people for the way they are.

I encourage you to read more here >

Luna Lovegood

Celebrating same-sex love through traffic lights.

vienna lights

I love this! Vienna has installed same-sex couple pedestrian lights! Disappointingly they will only be up until June for a host of events including Eurovision, but these are so cute let’s hope we see them pop up somewhere again soon!

 Read the full article here >

Mx. and Mx. Smith.

Mx pronoun

Mx pronoun
A small but positive step in the right direction for transgender and gender nonconformists. Mx the gender neutral honorific (pronounced mux), may soon be added to the Oxford English Dictionary as an alternative to the traditional Miss, Mrs, Ms and Mr.

Sweden are already ahead, recently adding the pronoun ‘hen’ to the official Swedish language dictionary as an alternative to the male and the female pronouns ‘han’ and ‘hon’ respectively.

Read more here >

You just got schooled on cultural appropriation by a 16-year-old.

Holy shit this video is amazing. Amandla Stenberg, the 16-year-old ‘Hunger Games’ actress (and I highlight her age because she has a better grasp of race issues than majority of people twice her age) eloquently explains how pop culture has appropriated elements of black culture (eg cornrows, braids, grills, twerking) and the issue that many of the white artists who have adopted elements of black culture have “failed to speak on the racism that comes along with black identity”, especially in light of the current protests in the US for police brutality against black people.

“Hip hop stems from black struggle, from jazz and blues, styles of music that were created to retain humanity in the face of adversity.”

“What would America be like if it loved black people as much as it loves black culture?”

Originally sourced from BuzzFeed News.

Laverne Cox poses naked for transgender empowerment.

Isn’t she gorgeous? Initially rejecting the proposal to pose naked on the cover of Allure magazine, Laverne Cox then changed her mind…

“I’m a black transgender woman,” she told Allure. “I felt this could be really powerful for the communities that I represent.”

“Black women are not often told that we’re beautiful unless we align with certain standards. Trans women certainly are not told we’re beautiful. Seeing a black transgender woman embracing and loving everything about herself might be inspiring to some other folks.”

Adding to her credentials, Laverne Cox has also been named one of TIME MAGAZINES‘s 100 Most Influential People.

Sometimes you’re the caterpillar.

the snail and the caterpillar

A simplistic look at privilege through animation. A good one for teachers and parents to share with kids, but this type of simplistic view is probably very relevant to certain adults as well.

Read article >