Wibbly Wobbly Girly Whirly: Sci-Fi and Girl Power

Words: Jessica Sheridan

Whovians are all astir this week following the BBC’s casting announcement for the next Doctor. It’s typically an exciting time for fans of Doctor Who, whose central character has the ability to conveniently regenerate into a new body every couple of seasons. It’s a clever plot device, and perhaps the main reason the show has had such a long run time.

Previously the role has had a parade of actors filling in for the Tardis-driving alien from Galifrey, including most recently Peter Capaldi, Matt Smith and David Tenant. And while they all brought their own flavour and zest to the role, they have all had a lot in common – notably:

They were all men.

Which is fine, for the record. Characters have to have some form of identity and it just so happened that for the last 36 seasons the Doctor was male. It was perhaps a little problematic that his companions were usually female, and usually in love with him, establishing an undeniable power imbalance. But that’s another topic for another day. For now, my point is simply that the Doctor just so happened to be male until now and that was fine.

Enter Jodie Whittaker who has been cast to play the 13th Doctor. Jodie Whittaker. A woman. And that is fine.

Viral Meme

Of course the reaction has been exactly what you’d expect: disappointing. Many people voiced their concerns about Whittaker, often beginning with the classic “I’m not a sexist, but…” caveat that people still think excuses their sexism. Many people made derogatory comments at Whittaker’s expense, some threatened they would boycott the show, and one media outlet responded by posting naked photos of Whittaker in their coverage of the announcement. Real classy, guys.

To clarify, I’m not disappointed in the casting choice. I’m not too familiar with Whittaker’s work, but up until now they haven’t got it wrong when it comes to casting everyone’s favourite alien, so why would they start now? I have faith that she will make an excellent Doctor, as I’m sure she has already proven to the show creators.

But there is a very, very, very vocal minority (yes – a minority) that is throwing a tantrum because their precious Doctor is regenerating as a woman.

The Doctor. A timelord. A character not from this world. An alien. The last of their kind (in the new series at least). A creature with two hearts and strange powers and a space ship that looks like a police box but it’s bigger on the inside and can travel through space and time. People are having a fit because this Doctor – this impossible character – is now a woman.

Imagine literally being angry that, after 36 seasons of male Doctors, they decided to try out a female Doctor? Imagine masculinity so fragile that one woman in a crowd of men was enough to send the internet into a spin?

Twitter statistics indicating that around 80% of users reacted positively to the announcement. But 20% of people are mad. Fingers have been pointed at ‘social justice warriors’ and ‘feminazis’ and people being ‘too politically correct’ for ruining their favourite sci-fi show. But in their fickle rage they have perhaps forgotten that this announcement was a long time coming. Because sci-fi has always been progressive.

Mary Shelley. Image – famousauthors.org

When you consider the origins of sci-fi it should come as no surprise that we have landed here – with a female Doctor. Mary Shelley is often credited with the first true work of modern science fiction with her story Frankenstein. Shelley was one of very few female authors in her time, and faced many setbacks in her career based on her gender. But she pushed through, and ended up writing one of the most infamous characters in literature history – Frankenstein’s Monster.

Since these empowering origins, the genre has taken leaps and bounds in reflecting societal progress. After all, consider the meat of the genre. Science fiction plots often centre on futuristic science experiments and exploration of the unknown – progress is at the heart of the genre. Why would science fiction – which pushes the limits of the imagination and presents life as it could be – fall at the mercy of outdated gender norms?

Princess Leia. Image: starwars.com

Science fiction has produced some of the best heroines in all of fiction. Princess Leia, who later becomes General Organa, is an iconic character layered in feminism and general baddassary. Sarah Conner is pivotal in the Terminator franchise and fights her own battles to keep her son safe. Dana Scully from the X Files kicks just as much ass in her role as Special Agent, and even Leela from Futurama cannot be discounted for her heroism in the midst of comedic disaster.

Doctor Who itself has produced some amazingly strong female side characters, such as Riversong, Donna Noble, and Martha Jones. Strong women can be found all throughout sci-fi; perhaps not always in the spotlight, but they are there. They have been for some time.

But it’s time to step off the sidelines and into the spotlight. Out of the romantic subplot and into the crux of it all. We have these strong female characters, but now it’s time to put them into leading roles where all strong role models belong. Because representation does matter, and it’s important that girls see strong women leading the way from time to time – if not at least half of the time.

We need to embrace lead characters that are different and not feel threatened by them. We need to make room for women and minorities to make equal contributions without lashing out and demanding that they sacrifice one of their few beloved minority leads as payment for every new lead. And we need to give media the chance to progress forward, and not resist change so forcefully if just for the sake of resisting.

Featured Image: Jodie Whittaker from denofgeek.com

11 Reasons Why Amber Rose’s SlutWalk Image is Transformative & Changes Social Discourse

Amber Rose is a feminist icon, trailblazer and champion of body positivity and women’s empowerment. She created the Amber Rose SlutWalk which is about to embark on its 3rd Annual strut on October 1st. The Amber Rose SlutWalk has a mission to put an end to slut shaming, sexual violence, victim blaming, derogatory labels, and gender inequality. And to ‘impact and uplift, while shifting the paradigm of rape culture’.

amber rose
Source: Facebook/Amber Rose

Recently, Amber Rose posted an image to social media promoting the 2017 Amber Rose SlutWalk. The image featured her slaying and embracing body positivity – pubic hair and all – and we love it! Unsurprisingly though, it offended many people’s delicate sensibilities. Instagram deleted the post as quickly as people slut shamed her.

Here’s the thing, whether you like it or not, Amber Rose’s image is transformative and is necessary for changing social discourse.

Here’s 11 reasons why:

1.   It demystifies the shame and taboo around women’s sexuality. Plain and simple.

2.   It desensitises us to the hyper-sexualisation of women’s bodies – which is very important in a world where women can’t breastfeed their babies in public because of this hyper-sexualisation of our bodies.

3.   It tackles rape culture head on – by making a strong statement that women ‘ARE NOT ASKING FOR IT’ if they ‘reveal too much’ (And besides sexual assault and rape HAPPENS regardless of what someone is wearing/not wearing)

4.   Based on the intense level of slut shaming she is receiving – it highlights a gross double standard, that it’s okay for women to be objectified in society but it’s not okay for a woman, through her own volition, to feel empowered by her body and sexuality.

5.   It smashes the harmful stigma and social expectations that women – perpetuated by pornography – MUST be fully-shaven/trimmed downstairs often JUST to appease the male gaze.

6.   Based on the intense level of people criticising her for having pubic hair (A COMPLETELY NATURAL THING) – it shows just how much our bodies are policed to fit ridiculous and outdated attitudes/expectations of what our bodies should look like. And by extension it shows the price women pay for non-conformity.

7.   Based on the intensity and number of women slut shaming Amber Rose by saying she has no respect for herself shows quite clearly how much internalised misogyny is present in our society.

8.   The fact that people want to vilify her by bringing her child into this by saying things like ‘your son is going to grow up being so ashamed of his mother’ is skewed, puritanical and archaic. This photo and her efforts with the Amber Rose SlutWalk show just how courageous she is. That she is willing to challenge the harmful status quo, that she is liberating so many women from the chains of shame, that she is leading with confidence and example by showing the world that women’s sexuality and women’s bodies are nothing short of beautiful. This is something that would make her child proud.

9.   This isn’t going ‘too far’, it isn’t tasteless, crass or indecent. It is necessary to be bold and confront the issues noted ABOVE ^^^^ because at best it changes the way we view women, and at worst, it at least gets us talking.

10.    I’ve also seen the silly argument being thrown around – ‘but if men did this, it would be a whole different story’. You’re right – it would. And that’s a whole different conversation that we can all have too. But quite frankly that’s not what we’re talking about in this particular instance. We are talking about the harmful treatment, expectations and attitudes toward women that stem from a deeply-ingrained place in our society.





Mental Health Police: Thirteen Reasons Why You Should Stop

CW: The following article deals with themes portrayed in Thirteen Reasons Why including mental health, suicide and sexual assault. Please read on at your discretion.

Have you seen it yet? What tape are you up to? Have you seen Clay’s tape yet? HAVE YOU SEEN CLAY’S TAPE YET?!

Whether you’ve actually seen it or not I’m sure that by now everyone is at least familiar with Netflix’s latest hit Thirteen Reasons Why. It follows the story of Clay as he comes to terms with the death of his close friend Hannah, who has left behind a series of tapes explaining why she chose to kill herself. Some have loved it, some have hated it, and some have made memes about it. No matter what your feelings are on the show, we can all agree that it deals with some pretty intense issues often shied away from by big production companies, which is great to see.

However I have noticed a fair amount of articles and blog posts surfacing about the themes in the show that made me wrinkle my nose. There have been several experts that have come forward to criticise the show for a very graphic (too graphic?) suicide scene, which is a very valid criticism and one for a separate discussion. But I do have growing concerns about the online chatter that criticises the depiction of mental illness and trauma throughout the show. I know people who have spoken out about how they relate to the show, only to be quickly shot down by others who say that the show’s depiction of mental illness does not reflect reality.

Picture: Netflix ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

And that’s not right.

I feel like an ugly trend has been developing where we police each other’s health. We saw it back in 2015 when the #effyourbeautystandards movement was taking off. So many people trying to reclaim their self-worth were shut down by those who made assumptions about the health of plus-size people. They were policing the health of their bodies, insisting people were putting their lives at risk just by trying to love themselves. Even recently Tess Holiday, the creator of the #effyourbeautystandards movement, was fat-shamed by her Uber driver who was policing her for what he perceived as bad health.

But now it seems that we are also policing people for their mental health. Thirteen Reasons Why and the subsequent discussion have brought this to a head, with people attacking each other online over the accuracy of the portrayal of Hannah’s mental health. Besides severe disappointment (really guys? This is the hill you wanna die on?) I was also shocked. People were trying to delegitimise the experiences of others based on a television show.

Hasn’t the negative stigma surrounding mental health done that enough? Do we really need to be contributing to the mystification of mental health by suggesting that only one version of trauma exists? Who are we to dictate how a rape victim should feel and behave after the fact? Do we really want to tell each other the correct way to experience depression and PTSD?

Because the answer should be no, guys.

Of course the show does not mention Hannah’s mental health specifically; we cannot know for certain if Hannah suffered from anxiety, depression or PTSD resulting from the constant and extreme bullying, sexual harassment and sexual assault. The show has been criticised for not tackling these issues head on, but I actually thought this was a purposeful statement. We don’t have to label someone’s health in order to recognise the different signs and symptoms; a person does not need to walk around with a sign that says ‘depression’ in order to have depression.

There are serious problems with diagnosis in mental health. A lot of people remain undiagnosed for their serious and very treatable illnesses for all kinds of reasons. Some people are ashamed, some people deny that there is anything wrong, and some people just don’t realise that what they are feeling isn’t healthy. I felt that by not labelling Hannah with a specific mental illness, the show was emulating reality: people often do not reach out for a diagnosis for many of the reasons discussed in the show.

Picture: Netflix ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

Instead of handing her a sign that says ‘depression’ or ‘PTSD’, Hannah is living out these conditions. We can connect the bullying and sexual harassment to her deepening depression. We can connect her stillness and fear following her rape to trauma and PTSD. We can hear her descriptions of feeling empty and recognise that Hannah has some mental health issues that she needs help working through.

Is the show suggesting that their depiction is an entirely accurate depiction of mental health? No. Is the show suggesting that their depiction is the only way of experiencing mental illness? No. At the same time it is not showing every aspect of mental illness. It’s a television show, and while it has a certain duty to treat the subject material with care and respect, it does not claim to be an authority on the issue.

Because it isn’t.

People can experience mental illness in the same way that Hannah does. I myself really related to Hannah, and saw my own experiences, thoughts and behaviours from my years with depression emulated in the character of Hannah. At the same time people can experience mental illness differently to Hannah. Some people get angry. Some people get sad. Some people self-harm and some don’t. The point is that everyone is different and we are all just trying to work through our mental health issues.

I am not a doctor, I am not an expert. But I feel that common sense tells us that people can experience illness and suffering in different ways. Just because someone experiences their depression differently to you does not make either of your experiences any less valid. It just means you are different.

So just be kind to each other. Help each other. And if you need a reason why you shouldn’t shut down someone who is trying to confide their feelings in you, just because your experience was different – I can think of thirteen.

If you or someone you know may be suffering from mental illness, contact SANE, the National Mental Health Charity Helpline on 1800 187 263 or Lifeline, a 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention service on 13 11 14.

Feature Image Source: Netflix ‘Thirteen Reasons Why’

Indians in Hollywood: The Diversity Dilemma

Now more than ever before, the West is seeing the rise of Indians and people of Indian heritage in Hollywood, and it’s glorious.

Priyanka Chopra. Photo: Instagram

Lately, the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Deepika Padukone, Dev Patel, Lilly Singh, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari have been taking the entertainment industry by storm. Back in 2012, Mindy Kaling paved the way for Indians on television, being the first Indian-American to create, produce and star in a television sitcom in ‘The Mindy Project.’ In 2016 Lilly Singh was ranked one the highest paid YouTube Stars by Forbes, and now has over 11 million subscribers #unicornisland.

This year Priyanka Chopra won her second consecutive People’s Choice Award for ‘Quantico’, Deepika Padukone is making her Hollywood debut in the movie ‘XXX: Return of Xander Cage’ also starring Vin Diesel, and Dev Patel’s movie ‘Lion’ has earned six Oscar nominations.

Having said this, seeing Indians on screen in the West hasn’t always been the case.

Growing up as young woman of Indian descent who was born and bred in the West, I would seldom see people who looked like me or who shared the same culture as me make their way onto our screens. On the rare occasion I would see an Indian on television or in a film, they were often depicted as the grossly stereotypical ‘token’ Indian with thick accents: the socially-inept nerd, telemarketer or Kwik-E-Mart operator, you get the picture.

Diversity by definition, is the inclusion of individuals representing more than one race, religion, colour, sexual orientation and so on. Diversity or lack thereof is a prevalent issue in contemporary western society as a whole. But when it comes to film and television in the West, it seems that the predominant narrative of diversity tends to be filtered through a monochromatic lens, in that, the focus is on white or black – quite literally.  Arguably, this black or white focus makes sense given the long and dark history of systematic oppression of African Americans in the US, and the fact that film and television is largely Americanised in the West through Hollywood. However very often, the diversity discussion overlooks the vast majority of other racial and ethnic minorities including Asians, Indians, Latino and indigenous minorities, to name a few.

Jada Pinkett Smith and Husband Will Smith. Photo: Facebook

Back in 2016 the Oscars were boycotted due to the underrepresentation and lack of diversity of people of colour. Spike Lee and Jada Pinkett Smith were among the many who took part in the boycott. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite reverberated across social media taking aim at the heavily white and male composition of the Academy and it’s all white nominations for the major award categories for two years running.

This year, the Oscars have definitely made an improvement for diversity, with a record of six black acting nominations, which is amazing news, but how much did diversity really improve for all racial and ethnic minorities? Keep in mind that this year was the first time an Indian was nominated for acting in 13 years.

The thing is, it is really important that when we talk about diversity we remember it extends beyond black or white.

Emphasis on the ‘really important’. Here’s why:

Not only is film and television mass-consumed, its influence is also extremely powerful; but the power of the entertainment industry goes well beyond the celebrity-crazed culture of Hollywood. Film and television has the power to tell stories, smash stereotypes, dismantle norms and reverse gender roles. It has the power to alter traditional standards of beauty. It can inspire tolerance, acceptance, understanding, appreciation and compassion by allowing us to see the world from different perspectives. We can journey in someone else’s shoes. We can laugh, cry and feel for characters who are different from us. It even has power to change the way we view ourselves

More importantly, film and television transcends the screen and can change the perceptions, attitudes and treatment of people and groups in society. It can change culture. So, more diversity in film and television is important for creating a more understanding, compassionate, tolerant and accepting society for everyone. We ALL seek to gain with more diversity.

Seeing people who look like you, and seeing your culture and community represented makes such a difference in so many ways:

On a personal level (and said in all humility), there have been many times throughout my adult life where I have been asked what my heritage is, and when I would respond with Australian of Indian descent, people are often surprised because they think I don’t look Indian, they think Indians aren’t usually ‘attractive’, or they would say you’re hot with the caveat ‘for an Indian’.

This sort of response is not uncommon for many people like me. The thing is – I believe I look Indian, to Indians I definitely look Indian, and in my opinion Indian women are really some of the most beautiful women in the world, but that’s not how Indians are portrayed in the West.

A Hollywood with diversity would dismantle the Eurocentric standards of beauty present in the West, and would mean that all young people can see someone who looks like them being celebrated and be able to feel like they too can feel beautiful for who they are and what they look like. Diversity has the power to change how individuals view themselves and how they are perceived by others.

Now, you may be thinking – why is there a lack of diversity? Is it because there is not enough Indian/minority actors and actresses?

Aziz Ansari. Photo: Facebook

Aziz Ansari, an Indian-American actor and star of ‘Master of None’ penned an essay for the New York Times on the Hollywood diversity problem. He admitted that yes, it can be difficult to find Indian actors, but he explained that when roles are available, they’re handed to other ethnicities. This whitewashing of Hollywood is a controversial issue and it happens all the time.

Whoopi Goldberg, actress and talk show host on The View pointed out that the lack of diversity in Hollywood stems from the fact that there have not been a lot of movies made with diversity because people don’t believe the public want to see movies with black people  in them. She says that until people start making movies, where you see more diversity in them, nothing will change.

Sunny Hostin. Photo: Instagram

Sunny Hostin, another co-host on The View pointed out that ‘WE’ the public, have the purchasing power to spend money watching movies with diversity, to make a statement that there is a market for more diverse movies and to ensure that Hollywood continues to make movies with more diversity. Hostin also points out that there is power in a boycott in the fight for diversity.All in all, diversity has a long way to go, but it has come a long way. And not just for Indians.

Something that really touched me was an interview with Gina Rodriguez and the cast of Jane the Virgin (which I highly recommend) – a brilliant, heart-felt, comedy, television show that celebrates strong Latina women.

Gina Rodriguez. Photo: Instagram

In the interview, a fan of the show explained that one of the reasons she loved the show was because nobody had captured her culture before or had done it justice, and that growing up she had no role models on television that looked like her or had her skin colour, until Jane the Virgin came along. Gina Rodriguez was brought to tears by these remarks.

Essentially, we need diversity because when we have it, it really makes a difference for everyone. And when we don’t have it, we as consumers have the power through our purchases or even a boycott to push for more diversity. But we mustn’t forget that diversity isn’t just about black or white it’s also about everyone in between.



‘Not Your Honey’ – When Sexual Empowerment Disempowers

Words: Jessica Sheridan

One of the difficult daily conundrums for women is the pressure to be sexy, but not too sexy. We are encouraged to wear high heels, but not too high, to wear low cut tops, but not too low cut. Honestly it’s a minefield of social faux pas trying to balance the two camps, and it often results in the stifling of our sexuality for fear of being too sexually open.

But women should be able to talk about sex. More than just that, women should be able to talk about pleasure, sexual desires and dislikes, the sensuality of their bodies – everything. I believe women should stand their ground and own their sexuality, recognising that their pleasure is just as important as their partners and their bodies really are a wonderland. Women should not have to feel ashamed of being sexy.

Honey Birdette is one brand that claims to stand for this idea. On their website, they introduce themselves as ‘Pleasure parlours’ created to ‘inject a sense of sensuality into the Australian bedroom.’ Many people are likely familiar with the brand: their decadent shop fronts of gold and black can hardly be missed, and they are known for selling luxury lingerie and sex toys unashamedly. And rightly so – there should be no shame in consensual sexual pleasure.

But not everything is always as it seems.

Recently ex-employees of Honey Birdette have come forward to speak out about the brand, claiming poor work conditions, sexism, and being subjected to sexual harassment. At a protest in Victoria on December 9th a group of ex-employees gathered in Melbourne to bring attention to the backwards working conditions they were subjected to. The ex-employees were seen burning bras and sporting signs that read ‘Not Your Honey’ in protest of the mistreatment and sexual harassment they faced during their employment.

Former Honey Birdette employees fight back against poor working conditions. Source: Twitter

And it’s not just the protest. A petition has started online calling for change to Honey Birdette’s dress code, policies, and attitude toward sexual harassment. The campaign creator Chanelle Rogers wrote in her preamble to the petition:

‘I saw workers humiliated and threatened by management because they weren’t wearing perfectly applied lipstick all day, their heels weren’t high enough, and because they didn’t “talk the way a Honey should talk”. I saw workers sexually harassed and intimidated by customers – and when these women spoke up, management told them to suck it up.’

One story by ex-employee Dominic Jericho Drury has also been shared hundreds of times on Facebook, detailing their own experience working at Honey Birdette. They likened their employment with the company to an ‘abusive relationship – obviously insane from the outside but alluring enough to still suck people in.’ They recalled repeated harassment by customers, claiming ‘we had to put up with this, as there was no way we would be supported if looking after ourselves came before making a sale.’ Their story highlights the extremes expected of employees to be considered a true Honey.

Call to action as women stand up against Honey Birdette. Source: Twitter

Over the past twenty four hours, the Honey Birdette Facebook page has been inundated with posts from customers who claim they will be boycotting the store. Many of the posts – mostly from women – demand that Honey Birdette change their policies, or share stories from other ex-employees supporting the protest’s allegations. While it is amazing to see women standing together to protect the rights of their fellows, Honey Birdette are yet to acknowledge and respond to the protests. There have been no posts by the page or on their website following the accusations.

These stories paint a picture nothing like the one Honey Birdette speaks of when it claims to ‘empower women.’ In order to empower women, you have to respect them, treat them fairly, and allow them to stand up for themselves. From small issues like requiring girls to wear perfect red lipstick and high heels for their long shifts, to bigger issues like shutting down complaints of sexual harassment, the protest and petition are shedding a very ugly light upon the company that was created with feminist ideas in mind.

It is not empowerment when women are forced to show their bras and wear stilettos just to keep their job. It is not empowerment when women are paid to have people talk to them in unwanted sexually explicit ways. It is not empowerment when women are scared to speak up about feeling uncomfortable in the workplace for fear of losing their job. This is not sexual empowerment. This is not even women empowerment. Silencing sexual harassment allegations and enforcing dress codes that play on sexualising women for the public (read as: male) gaze is disempowering.

It’s one of those problems that seem to stem from trying to apply a quick fix to a deeply ingrained societal issue. Sexual empowerment is not as simply as wearing a lacy bra or holding a riding crop. It is not red lipstick during the day or wearing stilettos as high as possible. Sexual empowerment is about choice, and feeling good about those choices. If you take away the ability to choose, then you make it impossible to empower women.

Dress codes and workplace policies are a fact of life. But sexism and sexual harassment shouldn’t be.

Featured Image: Source: Facebook


Madonna Shuts Down Sexist Social Expectations on Women

Society says that once a woman becomes a wife, has kids or reaches a certain age then they are no longer allowed to express their sexuality. Women who breach this outdated social norm are slut-shamed, condemned, criticised and judged for the way they dress, act and speak.

They say ‘Is that dress really appropriate for a mom to wear? What kind of example are you setting for your daughter?’ They say ‘you’re 60, you should cover up.’ They say ‘how does he [the husband] allow his wife to dress like that let alone go out in public.’ They say ‘you’re a bad role model for young women.’ They say ‘you have no self-respect.’


Source- Instagram: Madonna


Well, the star who needs no introduction. The one and only Madonna recently posted a number of semi-nude photos onto her Instagram under the caption “Still Acting my Age!!!” accompanied by some choice words:

“How do i know I’m still acting my Age? Because its MY age and its MY life and all of you Women Hating Bigots need to sit down and try to understand why you feel the need to limit me with your fear of what you aren’t familiar with. You know what happens to Bigots? NOTHING! Nothing happens to people who. Think in a limited way. Facts… ” wrote Madonna.

Yaassss girl Yasssss!

Thank you for living your life how you want and not how society says you must. Thank you for fighting against this sexist expiry date that dictates when a woman can or cannot express their sexuality. Thank you for fighting to dismantle the sexist social expectations placed upon women.

But at a time where women need the support of other women to fight the patriarchy and these sexist social expectations- unfortunately, in many cases it’s other girls who are doing the hating. Let’s be real. Girl on girl hate exists. And it sucks.

Girl on girl hate, however unfortunate, is unsurprising. We live in a culture where girls are constantly pinned against each other as rivals. It’s always a ‘Who Wore it Better’ between two women, instead of a ‘They Both Slayed.’ As prominent novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie pointed out in her personal essay We Should All Be Feminists and in Beyoncé’s song ‘Flawless’:

“We raise girls to see each other as competitors —
not for jobs or for 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.”

So, it really is unsurprising that girl on girl hate exists. Seriously though, why does society, men and other women, think it’s okay to police what women do with their bodies? The same doesn’t happen for men, so why women?

What is it about a woman embracing herself that is so disgraceful and so difficult for society to understand? Isn’t there enough self-hate already? So many people are struggling with learning to love themselves, with body dysmorphia, eating disorders, low self-esteem and depression. Yet when a woman shows an ounce of body positivity, confidence and actually embraces herself, society is so ready to bring her down and keep her down.

Another woman who has spoken out about society trying to dictate her sexuality is Kim Kardashian West. Just one scroll through the comments on one of Kim’s photos and you can see the hate for yourself. And you’ve got to hand it to her, despite all the hate, she’s still fighting the good fight for female empowerment and women’s sexual liberation. Earlier this year, on International Women’s Day, Kim posted an essay and hit us all with some truth bombs. She wrote:


Source- Instagram: Kim Kardashian West


“I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.”

How are these women bad role models? They teach young girls: that there is no shame in expressing themselves. That there is no shame in their sexuality. That they shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies. That there is no shame in loving themselves and being confident. That they should live their lives on their terms rather than trying not to offend the delicate sensibilities of some people. That they shouldn’t be afraid of being judged by not conforming to sexist expectations of how a woman should dress, act and speak. To me, that’s the message, the fight and the resolve of a powerful role model.

If we believe in personal autonomy, then there shouldn’t be ANY limit on expressing one’s sexuality. Regardless of whether you’re a wife, mother or an older woman, ALL women should be allowed to decide on their own terms what they want to do with their bodies, free from judgement. If that means wearing a ‘burqini’ on the beach, wearing a sheer outfit or being completely covered, turtle-neck and all- Then more power to you.

So how do we change these sexist social expectations on women? Well for a start we need a lot less girl on girl hate and a lot more #GirlLove. Lilly Singh, the popular YouTuber, also known as IISuperwomanII, launched a campaign earlier this year to give the world more of what it needs #GirlLove, a campaign that is ‘Dedicated to ending and reversing the culture of girl-on-girl hatred.’ Check out her video on YouTube titled ‘Goodbye Hate, Hello #GirlLove!’

But for now, keep fighting the good fight against ‘Women Hating Bigots’ and fighting for more #GirlLove.




















Kim Kardashian West: A Modern Day Heroine?

Kim Kardashian West is a modern day heroine. There, I said it. This may come as an affront to the work of eminent heroines such as Aung San Suu Kyi, Rosa Parks or Mother Teresa, courageous women who have changed the course of history or dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate, or who possess qualities that have influenced millions after them. How dare I say that a woman who reached celebrity status from a sex tape could be a modern day heroine?

In a TEDxVancouver talk, Elaine Lui, a “professional gossip” spoke on the sociology of gossip, and made some insightful comments about celebrity gossip and how it says more about our social culture than the celebrities themselves, and how the portrayal of celebrities in the media reflects “popular moral and ethics of that time.” In many ways, how we view Kim Kardashian says more about us than her and whether we are ready to label Kim a modern day heroine.

A heroine is a woman admired for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. If you are sceptical or quite frankly offended at the notion of Kim as Heroine, I’ll break it down for you.

The Sex Tape

Kim’s sex tape wasn’t the first nor will be the last celebrity sex tape. In interviews where Kim has directly been asked about the tape, she responds that we’ve all made mistakes and the sex tape was a mistake. If we accept the tape was a mistake, then unless we’ve never made mistakes, who are we to judge. If the tape was leaked without her consent, she would be the victim of a grave breach of privacy. Maybe it was a publicity stunt, nevertheless, what we never see is a social condemnation of Ray J, the other party in the sex tape, it’s the woman who is slut shamed and condemned and the public are ruthless, especially on social media, cyberbullying is rampant. We overlook the strength of someone who can live through being called the most hated woman on the planet. It takes courage not to let the shame, embarrassment and humiliation adversely affect her entire life, but Kim turned it around for herself and now has a self-made multi-million dollar empire. Her courage should be admired.

Talentless Kim

In a 2011 interview with Barbara Walters, Barbara said to Kim, “You don’t really act; you don’t sing; you don’t dance. You don’t have any — forgive me — any talent!” To which, Kim responded by saying “I think it’s more of a challenge for you to go on a reality show, and get people to fall in love with you for being you.” In my opinion the “talentless claim” is complete nonsense, Kim is one of the most successful businesswomen in the world, with clothing, jewellery, perfume lines, a television show, an extremely successful app and many more. By modern standards, her accomplishments are heroic.

Provocative Image: Woman, Wife and Mother

Bum, boobs, and back. We’ve seen it all. From her nude photoshoots, to provocative attire. How dare I associate a heroine with someone who leaves nothing to the imagination, who doesn’t respect herself? We live in a society with so many expectations on how a woman should look, dress and behave in order to be taken seriously or be worthy of respect. These conservative and superficial expectations for women are outdated. Women should have the choice to wear whatever they want- it has nothing to do with their self-respect. I mean, does the human anatomy really offend your delicate sensibilities?

Kim does not conform to society’s expectations of women, she does and wears whatever she wants. She sends the message that girls shouldn’t be ashamed of their bodies and should embrace and reclaim their bodily autonomy. Also, Kim is criticised for celebrating her sexuality because she is a mother and a married women. We hear “keep it for your husband’s eyes only,” or in the words of Naya Rivera, Glee actress who commented on Kim’s photo saying “I normally don’t. But…you’re someone’s mother.” Kim, or any woman, shouldn’t have to hide their sexuality once their married or have children. Social commentators have called Kim the overlooked face of feminism and the women’s sexual liberation movement.

Bad Role Model for Young Girls

Girls, don’t aspire to be a self-made successful businesswoman, a wife, a mum, with a smoking hot body (Note the sarcasm). Also, Kim’s work for charity is often overlooked. Kim is on speed-dial for the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles when funding is needed. Upon receiving an award this year at Variety’s Power of Women New York she recited “Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, and may we raise them.”

Whether we admit it or not, Kim empowers women in more ways than we acknowledge, we have to admire her courage, accomplishments and her message. If you are still skeptical, maybe it says more about us than her. Kim is a modern day heroine.