Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sunny Apples of the Month: 'Beauty and the Beast' and Drew Barrymore

Sunny Apples are great pieces of culture and great icons of inspiration, who are 'sunny', i.e. have an optimistic attitude on life and don't harbour a victim mentality, and 'apples', i.e. good for your health and wellbeing, as in 'an apple a day keeps the doctor away'.

'Beauty and the Beast' has opened to great applause and box office records around the world. And it's not hard to see why. A story filled with family values, love, righteousness and what I call 'The Princess's Spirit', people just love a great dose of these things. Some bitter souls may say Belle shouldn't have sacrificed herself for her father, or that she should have hated the beast because he was bad to her at first, but most of us would recognise it as family supporting each other, and forgiveness and love, respectively. A story with a sunny apple attitude, definitely.

Drew Barrymore is our other pick for sunny apple of the month. Despite her difficult past, positivity and hope is what she stands for now, and she has no bitterness about the past. And the people are loving it! Drew is a great feminist icon in our opinion. As it stands, feminism could do with a lot less of victim mentality, and Drew Barrymore could help show everyone the way.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Jessa Crispin, the Meaning of Feminism, and Why 'Choice Feminism' is the Only Real and Moral Feminism

Lately, there's been a lot of talk about Jessa Crispin and her book Why I Am Not A Feminist. In the book, Crispin argues against 'Choice Feminism', the kind of feminism that emphasizes women's choices as feminism's goal. She says, amongst other things, that this form of liberalism would not allow women to actively change the world. Therefore, she calls for a feminism that is based on solidarity around socialist goals instead. (At least this is my understanding of her argument. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

But, thinking about it, 'Choice Feminism' is the real feminism. You see, feminism came from liberalism, as a logical extension of the idea that everyone should be equally free to follow their own consciences. Early feminists like Mary Wollstonecraft and many of the suffragettes were liberals, and liberal men in that era like John Stuart Mill and Prime Minister Lloyd George were supportive of feminist causes as part of their liberalism. In contrast, statist conservatives and fascists alike, all who did not believe in equal moral agency, did not believe in feminism. Without liberalism and its ideals of freedom of conscience, there would never have been feminism.

And ever since feminism has expanded 'choice' to women, women have helped re-shape the world, for the better, in multiple ways. Some have become educators and others have become business leaders, changing the cultures of these fields bit by bit in profound ways. Some have remained stay-at-home mothers, and have used their increased bargaining power to benefit their children. Women have also used their political 'choice' to make change. For example, in the 100 years that women have had the vote, governments have paid increasing attention to the needs of families, since women, who tend to care particularly about these matters, have political power over them. More recently, mothers of gay and lesbian youth have been particularly active in championing for marriage equality. It may not be the socialist revolution some people were wishing for, but that's only because the majority of women clearly don't believe in such a move.

As I argued in my book Liberal Revival Now, liberalism is the most moral ideology because it supports freedom of conscience. And in a world where every woman should be as free and equal as every man, every woman will use her freedom of conscience to better the world as she sees fit. There will be 'solidarity' where people believe in causes together, but there will naturally be civil conversations and debates instead where there is no agreement, because forced 'solidarity' is just another word for enslavement. I believe most women, most feminists, would wish to create a world like this. We're getting there, slowly but surely, with 'Choice feminism', or, as it should be properly called, Liberal Feminism.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Taylor Swift New Music Rumours: It Sounds Really Wonderful

Swifties around the world are keenly waiting for Taylor Swift's new music, having been disappointed by her not releasing anything in the second half of last year, as per her usual schedule. But if these rumours are true, then Taylor Swift fans are in for a great surprise.

Firstly, there's been talk of a new website created specifically for Taylor fans, simply named Swifties. Rumours say it will have things like online tutorials, educational camps, and Taylor Swift branded musical products. Sounds like an interesting concept to me. I actually wonder why nobody else has tried this until now.

Secondly, there are also rumours that Taylor may try a new way of releasing music. In the internet age, releasing music online via both downloads and streaming has become commonplace, but all these models have been created by either computer companies or music labels. The idea that artists can be more creative about how they release music is certainly a breath of fresh air.

As previously said, these are just rumours, and they may not be true at all. Nevertheless, all these concepts sound interesting. So much that, even if Taylor does not end up doing it, I think somebody else should.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Scarlette Johansson, Saturday Night Live, Ivanka Trump, and 'Compliant'. Who's a feminist and who's not?

There's been a lot of talk about that Saturday Night Live skit. You know, the one where they dismiss Ivanka Trump's feminist identity, saying that she could have stopped men like her father but instead she's just 'compliant'.

I think it's just wrong on all sorts of levels.

Firstly, if somebody identifies as a feminist and does so seriously and not out of malice, nobody should be able to take their identity away. It becomes dangerous when we allow feminism to be defined by a group of social elites, who get to select who's in and who's out. Feminism is not like some exclusive clique, or a political party where you have to apply to join. It's simply a concept that people can choose to identify with if that's what they believe in.

Secondly, do you people think she can really change her father's ways completely, if she did try? I don't think so. Not being able to help isn't the same as being 'compliant', right? As for criticising her father, well, if your father was president and he acted like Donald Trump, do you think you would be out there criticising him?

Honestly, I don't know a lot about Ivanka Trump, but I don't see anything suggesting that she deserves this treatment.

If Donald Trump is where the problem is, then let's stick to talking about that.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lena Dunham, Immigrant Women, and Keeping Things Separate

For the occassion of International Women's Day this year, Lena Dunham wrote an article praising the contribution of immigrant women to American society, and calling for the recognition of such women.

While her intention is good, and I get that any pro-immigrant sentiment is much needed and appreciated in the current climate, I think there's no point highlighting the contribution of immigrant women in particular, when all immigrants, men, women and gender non-conforming, actually contribute substantially and in similar ways. There is simply no rational case for singling immigrant women out for special discussion.

I am just concerned that creating a special category for women where justification for different treatment doesn't exist may actually lead to differential treatment by society in the longer run. Differential treatment based on gender is not only unfair, it usually disadvantages women, remember. As I previously highlighted, female world leaders who don't play the gender card have fared much better than those who do, probably because they receive less differential treatment in return.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meghan Markle, India, Stigma, and Opportunity for Women (including in the West)

Meghan Markle, actress and girlfriend of Prince Harry, recently talked about her trip to India earlier this year, and remarked upon how stigma surrounding menstruation there has meant lack of access to proper sanitation for girls and women. This in turn means that their opportunities to undertake education and sport are limited, and their potential is often not realised.

It's an issue I think women in the West should pay more attention to.

It also highlights how important it is to remove stigma around things that are just natural, and just a normal part of life otherwise. Stigmatization is the path to oppression. Rational, taboo-free discussion is the path to end the stigma.

Once upon a time, there was strong stigma around the idea of women having careers. Working women who were married and/or mothers were particularly stigmatized. Luckily, waves of activitism, discussion and awareness has changed this forever, at least in the West. We do need to keep in mind that this situation still exists in many other parts of the world, and is something we should work to change. Coming back to the West, however, nowadays, we should probably be more concerned about the stigma surrounding stay-at-home mothers, and the false idea that they contribute less to society. Ideas like these have prevented many women, who would otherwise have taken up this option, from doing what they really want to, and the stigmatization has meant this issue is rarely even discussed or explored in our collective conversation, including in feminist circles. It's time this changed.


Sunday, March 12, 2017

Anne Hathaway, Maternity Leave, Paternity Leave, and Gender Equality

Drawing on her own recent experience, Anne Hathaway gave a passionate speech on the need for paid maternity leave on International Women's Day last week.

As I have previously said many times, having a family and caring for their family is a high priority for many women, and any serious exercise in women's empowerment should throughly address this issue. For her effort, I believe Anne Hathaway deserves a 'feminist Oscar' or 'feminist Grammy Award' if there ever is such a thing. (Or maybe we could start something like that?)

But the thing I was genuinely (pleasantly) surprised by was that Anne actually gets the point that real gender equality and liberation can only come if it includes everyone. In her speech, she pointed out that paid paternity leave is needed just as much, as we need to avoid situations that "undervalue fathers and overburden mothers", as well as situations that leave minorities like gay parents behind. Furthermore, she pointed out that "in order to liberate women, we need to liberate men" too. This really contains a lot more understanding of the real world situation and needs than many self-professed feminists can claim.

Perhaps, one day, every feminist will understand that just supporting policies that allow women to 'do the things that men do', or even to only care about women's (and nobody else's) liberty and equality, will not bring us anywhere close to real empowerment.


Saturday, March 11, 2017

Emma Watson's Beauty and the Beast Controversy: Does It Make Her Less of a Feminist?

Three years ago, as she stood to tell the UN how important it was for men to be supportive of women's rights, I was frankly surprised at Emma Watson's evolution into a feminist icon. I wasn't convinced at first, but I gradually became convinced of her sincerity.

However, Emma's sincerity about feminism seems to be under doubt again, at least among some observers. Her decision to play the Princess Belle in the upcoming Beauty and the Beast film is part of the reason. You see, Belle, and perhaps Princesses in general, are seen as weak and non-feminist. And maybe Emma even helped contribute to this view, when she once said something along the lines of rather identifying with the warrior than the fragile princess, if my memory serves me right.

But there's nothing inherently weak or unfeminist about Princesses. For me, the spirit that princesses embody is a strong one, something I celebrated in my Princess's Spirit Trilogy novels. And maybe, just hoping, now that Emma has played one, she would agree with me here. Princesses actually make fine feminists.

Feminists have been too hard on Princesses for too long now. This needs to change.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Jennifer Lopez Speaks for Many Women, I Think

In a recent interview on Today, Jennifer Lopez spoke extensively about her children, even getting emotional at the subject.

It made me think. Here was one of the world's most successful women, who had many things in life she should be happy about, yet the one thing she credited for making her life so much better was her children.

After all, many of us are family beings. No matter how much material wealth one may acquire, family is even more important, for many of us.

Which is why feminism should never let mothers, and motherhood, down, if it is serious about empowering all women, all the time.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom Never Meant to be Serious? Really Disappointing If So.

After Katy Perry and Orlando Bloom's recent split, there have been rumours that the two never intended this relationship to be serious.

I hope it's not true. I mean, we should all respect others' choices, but it saddens me that people choose to start relationships that can be disposed of whenever they want to. I know it's their freedom to do so, but I have to say that it makes me feel sad about the state of humanity.

In my humble opinion, it's no good for either party. Human beings are meant to live in committed relationships, I believe.

TaraElla's Latest Single Not That Kind of Retro

This song is now available at the TaraElla Google Play shop.