Category Archives: Gender – Genre/sexe

One can only imagine it

Can you imagine a 69 year-old woman running for president after she married three times, had five children with three different spouses, openly talks about groping a male’s genitals…?

Jennifer Granholm.

I don’t think anyone can actually name one so we can only imagine it because society shame such women to oblivion when we are ready to have their male counterpart as a president.

An every woman’s smile.

I don’t how she does it really. Hillary. I was watching her smile during the debate as Trump was uncontrollably vomiting every cheap, baseless insults (some say “opinions”) that went through his mind. People were quick to point out how uncomfortable and fake she looked when she smiled. Yes, but have you ever wondered: does she really have the choice?

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified and experienced politician to have ever run for president. This campaign was a chance for her to prove that decades of hard work, of experience and dedication to serving her country had made her ready to be the leader of said country. The campaign was a chance for her to show off everything she has learnt through her career as a lawyer, a senator, a Secretary of State and eight years witnessing first hand the realities and practicalities of the presidency. This campaign was a chance for her to admit she has made mistakes and to show that she had learnt from them.

Instead, what is she given? A back-of-the-schoolyard-and-classroom bully who would not listen to anything she says, not even her admitting her mistakes, rather constantly shouting at her, cutting her off with ever more outrageous statements he believes to be snappy and witty come-backs.

I was her for a minute: the teacher ignoring the classroom bully for the sake of everyone else (even those laughing) knowing it’s my job to cater for that bully’s needs as well. Like all teachers in the classroom, she has to be the better person in this campaign and acting otherwise would be the end of her.

Like her, how many times do we, teachers, feel the urge to just stop everything short and say: “What the fuck are you on about, you twat?!” But we could never say that because it is our responsibility to be above all this, to remain calm, on point for something that’s bigger than us and the bully: the education, the future of everyone, including the bully.

As teachers, we are often accused of being robots, inhumane, lacking empathy and kids are surprised when we cross path in supermarkets. You eat food? Or coming of the gym or can talk about a TV show. That’s because we have to constantly put on this utterly professional mask of someone untroubled and only driven by teaching. We are often accused of being fake and cold, especially with difficult students. Actually, the more difficult they are, the more aloof and clinical we are told to be. “Don’t take the bait!”

That’s where Clinton is today: accused of being “fake and cold” in front of a “honest and fiery” Trump she cannot just tell off. Believe me, give Clinton half a chance and she would not waste a second pulling a Beyoncé: Middle fingers up and put them in his face. But she cannot because she knows she will have failed her mission to be above all that and no one will ever forgive her. Some would say this is a good test to see if she can be president. Her sole opponent is now Donald Trump, I think we’re past “testing time”.

When he mentioned her “not looking presidential”,  imagine her saying: “Why? You think you look presidential, sneezy?” People would not have warmed up to her because when it comes to women, a country still wants a perfect mum and a teacher, when we are used to dad’s ever more racist rants.

No one would vote for Clinton would she behave like he does because we expect more from her than anyone ever does from him. We expect her to fathom that this campaign is bigger than her or Trump’s insults, that the future of the US and the world depends on her being strong enough to not let herself being dragged into a verbal boxing round of cheap insults by his attention-seeking, provocative behaviour.

More than every teacher, Hillary is every woman in our society fighting for a job for which she is way more qualified than her male opponent. She knows she is more qualified. She knows we know it. We can all check, it’s open knowledge and yet, she still has to prove it because whatever women do is never good enough. She can’t be attacked for being childless like Merkel frequently is so she is attacked on her appearance, her age and the mistakes she dared make in positions Trump cannot even begin to fathom, such as senator during 9/11 or Secretary of State during the Arab Spring.

The mind of the people is clearly set now: she wants to be president? She must be perfect! What about Trump? He’s a card…Yeah but he’s a man, that’s different. Because we accept and expect men to be bastards once in a while. He’ll know how to turn it down when need whereas if Clinton has not managed to be perfect at all time, it’s in her nature. So Clinton wants votes? She has to prove she is twice as good (in all sense of the word) as he is.

I hear many gay people still banging on about the fact that she used to not support gay marriage. It doesn’t matter that she now does. People don’t forgive and forget when women are flawed, especially on the Left, and her past mistakes, most of which she has acknowledged, are still a hindrance, when Trump’s brashness opens him door after door.

The problem is that people, left or right, still refuse to acknowledge they think as such so, like all women, she must pretend she is fighting her equal. She has to make her opponent and his supporters feel like it’s an even playing field when it’s not. Common sense dictates the balance is on her side but for some reasons, as numerous as they are complex, it takes a couple of two-a-penny alt-right clichés in Trump’s tweets to make the race tighter than ever.

The media are happy accomplice for they like to show it that way too: “They are trading blows”, we hear.

He calls Mexicans “rapists”, women “pigs, dogs”, she calls her supporter “deplorable”.

However, it’s a trade.

I was under the impression that trading comprehends an even exchange.

How can “rapists” and “pigs” be on the same shelf as “deplorable”? How can the facts and experience she is displaying possibly be considered on par with Trump’s baseless garble?

Because expectations are different, all the while looking the same.

So yes, in the face of openly proud racism, sexism, xenophobia, denial, deceit, cheap yet predictable attacks and insults that have opened the White House gates to an irritable, boorish, sulky, incompetent, nepotistic, immature, little daddy’s boy of a man, Clinton must do what every ambitious woman does: fake smile, take the punch, ignore it, keep her head high and keep going with the actual facts in order to keep the debate where it matters and not let the bully stir it into an irrelevant, verbal brawl for only men, even defeated, win in brawls.

“Close your eyes and think of England.”

Well for Clinton, it’s “Fake smiles, fake smiles and think of the future of the US.”

Ladies, middle fingers up!

I remember years ago playing Uno with some 20-something people and guys kept on cursing. “Fucking cunt” was one of them’s favourite everytime he had bad game and no one reacted. Until, his sister said “Aw fuck off!” after losing. The men gasped, turned to her, told her how offended they were. She defended herself and refused to apologise.

I praised her, the women present stood by her and the game ended with the men saying they were too shocked to carry on. She is a woman, she swore and did not apologise at once. How shocking, indeed…

As Stephen Fry says, I am not one of these twee people who believe that swearing is a lack of education. For me, as a man, swearing is normal. I swear and it’s fine for me and pretty much anyone, as long as it’s not to abuse anyone or in the classroom. And then again, I’m often excused if I go off rail because I am a man and that’s what men do. We are beasts and being violent, “asserting our authority is part of who we are”.

I am not here to advertise nor advocate swearing as a whole, especially when used as an attack on someone – which, by the way, can be done without swear words. It’s just that swearing holds a special place for me in how I fathom feminism.

For me, feminism is to relentlessly fight the gender roles that society has built, whether it’s males accused of being “such a girl!” or women shot down in flames for daring to behave like men. Despite what most (men) like to say, a woman swearing is still dragged in the dirt for having broken a taboo: violence through words.

That’s why I believe one the most poignant act of feminism any woman can do is to openly and unapologetically swear and be crude, raw, true to herself if she wishes to express herself in such way. Which is why I adore feminists like Amy Schumer, Jennifer Saunders, Jo Brand, Joan Rivers, Madonna and Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Because their work is a massive, loud, proud and now unavoidable “Fuck off” to what society expects of women: to be nice and polite.

Ladies, middle fingers up, put them hands high. Wave it in his face, tell him ‘Boy Bye!’

People don’t believe that women who swear and talk about sex without euphemisms are dragged in the dirt, well I hereby invite you to read the comments left on Amy Schumer’s latest acceptance speech at GQ. Warning: hatred by the bucket! Especially directed towards her not being funny because her language is crass, disgusting and undignified for a woman.

The buzz is also about Michael Caine’s reaction to her “Patrick Stewart cumming all over her tits” joke. The man didn’t laugh, looks appalled and like an umbrella has been shoved up him and just opened up. So people are going berserk to show that, unlike her, he has class whereas she is trash and cheap. “He’s a true gentleman” and “she’s a whore.”

As a man, the chances are he swears way more often than she does on a daily basis because it’s more widely accepted but in public, things are different.I am not accusing neither one nor the other for this, for the choices they made in defining their public persona, just pointing out at the reactions that are at the complete opposite: he’s praised for how he presents himself while she’s being dragged for basically talking like a man. She is compared to Ricky Gervais and other comedians.

That’s my point! This kind of joke is what Ricky Gervais or Jimmy Carr would do. That’s also the kind of  language hundreds of thousands of male comedians or pranksters use in their praised work, and highly watched and praised videos on YouTube. No one has a problem with that because they are men.

Schumer mentions how unfunny some men still find women who swear and talk about sex when women (and gay men) find them hilarious. It’s not the first time I hear or notice this. Almost none of the straight males in my family or friends circles understand the appeal of Absolutely Fabulous because it depicts women that no man would possibly want to marry. That’s what many straight guys tell me about the series when they try to explain why they didn’t understand the humor. For them, Eddie and Patsy are monsters and nowhere near appealing: they smoke, drink and swear. How not wife or mother material of them!

Women, on the other hand, and gay men, will find a common ground in the depiction of true women as flawed human beings who are aware of their limitations and find the material for their brash and unconventional humour.

Saunders close her acceptance speech hoping she has done enough to promote women’s friendships, the need to not have a conventional, normal heterosexual relationships to define you and women applaud. They applaud her swearing, her accepting and not thriving for another version of herself but embracing her human nature.

What I find the most interesting is that GQ has censored Schumer when she says the word “cunt”* when, at the same time, Glamour Magazine posted a completely uncensored video of Saunders using that very word. It’s not a first for Glamour nor is it for GQ. A women magazine is not censoring swear words whereas a men magazine does. Hmmm…Especially when it comes to words depicting female genitalia for Schumer’s use of the word “dick” was left to be appreciated.

In a society that keeps asking women to hide who they are, change who they are, pretend to be someone else in order to achieve the ultimate goal of finding a man to marry, every single swear words ushered, murmured, whispered, said, told, spoken, shouted, screamed, yelled by women is a step forward.

*Here’s the uncensored version posted by Jim Chapman who doesn’t think she is dirt for saying “naughty words”.

The old, angry, white male is at it again.

So Beyoncé delivers yet another gob-smacking performance for the power, the beauty and the genuineness of which I have ran out of superlatives to describe. Guiliani, on the other hand, has not: “shame”. Why? Because he has saved more black lives than she did.

…What?… (And yes, I had to read the Daily Mail…)

Lemonade is about women resilience. Black women resilience from the heart of their home to the most outside world. The album is crystal clear about it. It tells the story of all black women who were, have been and will be comforted to being considered as the lowest citizen of the American society, from the white people in power to the deceiving males of the same blood. It’s about black women having to scrap a living on their own because their male peers are in prison or dead. It’s about their journey towards independence from the words of their father to the lessons they learnt through experiencing life and hurt on their own.

Lemonade puts the spotlight on the black American woman: the most neglected, disrespected, forgotten and overlooked person in the society and their struggle. The black man is not even the centre of the narrative, he’s such a trigger, a reason, a consequence but their feelings, their excuses, their reasons are irrelevant. The black woman is everything.

Lemonade does what it says on the tin: turning the sourness of countless lemons that hindered the path of your life into lemonade to keep yourself refreshed and strong. And her performance at the MTV VMA was exactly that. She sang the black women’s sadness, their anger, their desperation and eagerness at being simply respected. She screamed the raging lioness in each of them, one they have been taught to tame and keep quiet, as a warning to all men that women are not to be contained.

And somehow, out of all of that, out of all the clear lyrics she sang about betrayal, the obvious feminism, out of the Venus Cross at the end, Giuliani took one thing: she is questioning him and his tenure as a mayor of New York.

His whole intervention on Trump TV…Sorry, Fox News was to champion his own achievement as a mayor of NYC fifteen years ago. He has made New York a better place, he has revived Harlem…Okay but what does it have to do with Beyoncé performance? Well, at the beginning, she is surrounded by women in white halos who fall on the floor covered in red light. These women are the black people killed by the police. She even mentioned it later when she asked about funerals.

So not only had Guiliani not understood the performance at all, he also has no idea what Lemonade is about. He’s stuck on outrage-mode after her performance at the super bowl, the Black Panther outfits et al. Giuliani reminds me of those christian fundamentalist parents whose children killed themselves under the weight of beliefs that were more important to their parents than they were themselves. But then who went on to blame some rock bands for the death of their offspring, claiming you can hear the devil or some encouragement to kill yourself if you played the vinyl backwards…

Alike these parents who refuse to see the impact of their actions and would find any excuse to blame someone else while praising their own hard work, Giuliani sees Beyoncé as a problem because in his eyes when she questions the whole society and the terrible consequences of centuries of bad policies, she questions him personally. He cannot fathom that maybe she is touching issues bigger than him because there is nothing bigger than him. It’s all about him. So he feels it is necessary to defend himself when no one has attacked.

The problem is that he talks about it as if it was high time black people realised they owe more to someone like him (a proud supporter of Trump) as a former mayor of NYC than they do to a black singer from Houston but the two don’t compare.

Beyoncé is not an elected representative, she is an artist who decides to express herself, shows her understanding of the world and fights for causes through her art. It’s her job and she is being rewarded for that job exactly. She had not received some of Humanitarian Worker of the Year award for service to the nation so why is Giuliani opposing his record to her art?

She is being political.

Yes. Everything is, nowadays. It’s her choice to address societal issues that are eventually political, to choose a battle and let her music and art speak for it. Why just feminism? Because she’s a woman and talks from experience. Why just black people? Because she’s black and talks from experience. And she can do it, she can decide to pick some battles before others because she is an artist. No one has elected her and she doesn’t have the responsibility to represent and serve even the ones who disagree with her or voted against her during some elections.

Which is what Giuliani had to do as a mayor: be there for the ones who supported you but also be selfless enough to understand that you have a mission to serve everyone, even the 45-49% who voted against you. And maybe he’s absolutely right when he says he was a great mayor, maybe he did his job perfectly. He was knighted by the queen after all. So was Beckham…or Fred Goodwin…Maybe he did save more black lives than Beyoncé but as far as I know, no one is pretending otherwise.

She is? How?

She came with Eric Garner’s mother and he was killed in NYC. Yes, but he was killed in 2014 and Giuliani was a mayor until 2001 so nothing to do with him. The other mothers? Well, they were the ones of Trayvon Martin was killed in Florida, Michael Brown killed in Saint-Louis and Oscar Grant III murdered in Oakland, California. So what has anything Beyoncé did that night got to do with Giuliani?

Nothing.

Beyoncé has decided enough was enough and let her art kick doors open so the US face a problem that’s been lingering and rotting its core since its birth: race. But she does it with a twist of feminism that makes the narrative even more complicated to fathom, I agree, although reading the lyrics and listening to her makes it frankly easy to grasp the message. It’s obvious that in her quest for change, she will encounter the usual when it comes to fighting sexism and racism: a cohort of angry white males who cannot understand a world that doesn’t revolve around them so they feel feminism and the mention of race is a personal attack. Which is exactly what Guiliani has proved.

Guiliani has become a poster to the typical and what Fox News and Trump are begging for: a male blast from the past who will take any opportunity to bring the spotlight back on them to remind us that they are the main actors in the world and should be praised as such.