Saturday, June 24, 2017

Feminism Must Not Discredit Itself Over Ivanka Trump

In recent weeks, a section of the feminist community has again stepped up its attacks on Ivanka Trump, with someone even declaring her a danger to feminism. On the other hand, conservative criticism that this proves the exclusionary nature of modern feminism is also ramping up.

You all know my attitude on this. You may think this is about me sympathising with Ivanka for some reason. But the real thing I'm concerned about is feminism itself. To put it bluntly: some feminists are discrediting feminism over Ivanka Trump. No matter what you think of Ivanka, this sounds like a tragedy.

Even before all the drama about Ivanka and feminism, many people out there already perceived feminism to be too political, to be about a specific political agenda, and to be a movement that conservative people cannot join. It seems that, unfortunately, some feminists don't mind providing evidence to support these accusations. Make no mistake: the 'movement' to exclude Ivanka Trump from feminism is undoing the great work of other feminists educating the public on what feminism truly is. If feminism is about gender equality and only gender equality, it should logically have nothing bad to say about Ivanka, after all.

I never supported Donald Trump's candidacy and presidency, and in light of recent developments I have developed an even dimmer view of him. But Donald is Donald, and Ivanka is Ivanka. If feminism cannot get this right, it will be discredited for at least a generation. And we cannot afford that.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Caitlyn Jenner for President in 2020? Why that's a potentially great idea.

It's 2017, and America and the rest of the West are bitterly divided.

We desperately need a president who will cut across lines and unite people. While the left is all about social justice for minorities and the right is all about conservative values, the best thing to do would be to have a president who can serve both camps. After all, the two aforementioned things are not really mutually exclusive. We just need to find a conservative who is also a member of one of the minorities the left loves to champion. Now, I'm not saying that I would necessarily support all the policies of a conservative administration. I think I wouldn't, actually. But this does represent a way to heal the divide.

The most logical choice would be a conservative person of color. However, the high-profile conservative people of color in America tend to be religious conservatives too, and a lack of support for LGBT rights is a no-no for progressives these days. I can't imagine how a President Condoleeza Rice could be accepted by progressives. Even a more moderate President Marco Rubio would be controversial for his non-support of marriage equality. Therefore, a high-profile conservative LGBT person would probably be the better choice. This leaves us with Milo Yiannopoulos and Caitlyn Jenner as the main candidates.

Milo Yiannopoulos would be a very controversial choice indeed. He doesn't seem to care about the fact that he is flaming tensions across the cultural divide. His strong and uncompromising support for Donald Trump would also be a negative in the sense of healing the divide, Trump being the most divisive politician of our age. On the other hand, Caitlyn Jenner has shown that she is a person who can listen to contrary opinions, as we have seen on I Am Cait. More recently, she famously changed her mind to support marriage equality. While she did support President Trump in last year's election, she has not hesitated to criticize his lack of support for trans rights this year.

I am not saying that I would definitely support Caitlyn Jenner if she did run in 2020. But there would definitely be some merit to the idea of her being US President.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

From Washington to Paris to Wonder Woman: Why Feminism must learn from Ariana Grande and Be Positive

The Ariana Grande One Love Manchester concert gave us much needed positivity. And in this new mood of positivity, I realised one thing: recently, the negativity within feminist circles has had an impact on my outlook on life too. It's really hard to stay positive with all that anger, bitterness and divisiveness. But still, we must try to stay positive.

However, we must also ask this question: why can't the feminist movement just stay positive? I mean, the women's march this year was the perfect example of where feminism could be really positive. But even there, some feminists complained about feeling excluded. Shouldn't the women's march be inclusive of everyone? Why does there have to be exclusions?

More recently, this ugly divisiveness was on show again, from Paris to Wonder Woman. A black feminist festival in Paris sought to exclude white people from much of its venue, while some Wonder Women screenings sought to exclude men. Again, why does there have to be so many exclusions, and therefore so much controversy? Can't we just all live together, be inclusive, and be positive?

Nobody likes angry, bitter and divisive movements. Certainly not myself. It's time we made feminism more positive.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The Ariana Grande One Love Manchester Concert reminded me of something: the power of Positivity

Ariana Grande has been praised by many people around the world for her bravery in going back to Manchester to deliver the One Love Manchester concert. And with the support of artists like Miley Cyrus, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Katy Perry, Liam Gallagher and others, it was a great show. Surely the music was great, but there was also one quality about it that really struck me.

The positivity.

The positive message of unity and love that came out of the concert was unmistakable, and I think it is an important message to have right now. Not only because the whole world is reeling from a series of terrible terrorist attacks, but also because there's just too much negativity hanging around generally. 2017 has been a particular controversial year, and people on all sides have gotten especially negative. The West really has not been this bitter, this angry, and this divided before. Somewhere along the way, people forgot to be positive.

So make this pledge with me: remember to be positive, even in the face of difficulty. Because we all need it.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

White feminism? Zionism? Can't we stop this madness and just enjoy Wonder Woman?

Wonder Woman has opened to the well-deserved praise of feminists around the world. After all, it isn't every day that we get a major movie about a female superhero. (By the way, I would be really happy if we can have a Supergirl movie too.)

However, some self-proclaimed feminists are trying to spoil the fun for the rest of us. Firstly, there is the predictable accusation of white feminism. The term 'white feminism' has been so overused it now means essentially nothing. I'm also worried that it is becoming a racist slur against, well, feminists who are white. Anyway, apart from the fact that Wonder Woman is white, what's so 'white feminist' about Wonder Woman? It's not like that she's racist?

The more surprising accusation about Wonder Woman is the supposed Zionism. This stems from the fact that Gal Gardot, who plays Wonder Woman, is Israeli, and has voiced support for some of her country's actions in the past. Now, as an East Asian I am firmly neutral about the Israel-Palestine issue, as I believe it is not my place to comment on this issue. Other than reaffirming my commitment to opposing both anti-semitism and Islamophobia in all forms, I have nothing else to say. However, Wonder Woman the character is not even Israeli, so how is the Wonder Woman movie Zionist? I mean, the fact that Eddie Redmayne played Lili in The Danish Girl doesn't make Lili the character a straight man, right?

It seems that some people just have to be perpetually angry, and can't enjoy anything in life. It's annoying. What I'm most concerned about is that this kind of annoying behaviour will just serve to discredit feminism.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Helen Mirren wants us to all be feminists. Great! However, we must stop annoying people like Kara McCullough.

British actress Helen Mirren has told students at a commencement ceremony that, no matter what race or gender we are, we should all be feminists. She admitted that until relatively recently she didn't even identify as a feminist herself, because she thought that would be too political. However, she came around to see the necessity of the feminist movement.

I agree that we should all be feminists. After all, feminism, as it is properly understood, means the equality of people, regardless of gender. If you can't support that, then you are a bigot, effectively. I also agree about the necessity of supporting the feminist movement. Equality can never be taken for granted.

But some people seem to have a different view on what feminism is. Just a few weeks ago, newly crowned Miss USA Kara McCullough said that she preferred 'equalist' instead. As feminism properly understood would have the same meaning as 'equalism', it's just that Kara McCullough has a biased view of what feminism means, right? But then, if she does, she's not alone. After all, even Helen Mirren thought it was 'too political' for her in the past.

And you can't really blame people for having a distorted view of feminism, when self-proclaimed feminists are out there saying that you can't be a feminist unless you oppose capitalism, or that you can't be a feminist if you are pro-life. These stances are decidedly personal beliefs that are not essential to a worldview of gender equality, and they are also clearly very political. No wonder views of feminism being 'too political' or 'not really about gender equality' are so common.

If we believe in feminism, we must stand up for the one and only definition of feminism, and argue against those who implicitly or explicitly suggest that there should be other requirements for memebership in the feminist club. Only that way can we not alienate many potential feminists. Only that way can we build a feminism that is inclusive and strong. You can be a feminist and a socialist, but it should be clear that you don't need to be a socialist to be a feminist.

Friday, June 2, 2017

So Ivanka Trump can't even celebrate Pride Month now? This is madness! Pride Month should be for everyone!

It's June, so I'm wishing everyone, and especially the LGBT readers of my column, a happy Pride Month! I think it's a good thing that we are all so aware of Pride Month nowadays. LGBT people and their allies should stand up and be heard.

This Pride Month, Ivanka Trump has also shown her support, sending out two tweets. However, sadly, they have not been universally well received. Continuing on the theme of making Ivanka responsible for everything her father stands for, the far-left crowd has rejected her well meaning messages, instead posting accusations of her being 'complicit' to the Trump administration's policies in response. Responding to love with hate, in other words.

Having this attitude towards Ivanka won't change Donald Trump's mind about anything. But it would certainly make many other people take a dim view of LGBT rights, and thus more likely to support the Trump administration's homophobic policies. Some people may think that being perpetually angry is a good thing, but in reality it only makes things worse. Just recently a poll said that marriage equality support in the US is at an all time high. It would be a shame to spoil this sentiment by being divisive and angry, especially as marriage equality is still a live battle in Northern Ireland and Australia, two countries the US shares a language and a culture with.

Even if Ivanka can't do much to change her father's mind, her support should still be welcome. The LGBT rights movement needs allies from everywhere, more than ever. Now is the least appropriate time to alienate people.

Pride Month should be for everyone who wants to partake. Don't make it any more complicated than that.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Vanessa Hudgens is Right. Singing Along to Celine Dion can Pay Off!

Vanessa Hudgens recently credited singing along to Celine Dion when she was younger for giving her the great vocal range she has.

Some may say that can't be correct, as many people like to sing along to Celine Dion too, perhaps in the shower.

But the difference is in how you do it. To improve your singing, you need to sing along seriously. Sing like you're performing for a crowd. Do it with passion.

Now, the question is, will somebody one day credit singing along to Vanessa Hudgens for their vocal skills?

Monday, May 29, 2017

Is Miley Cyrus Finally Turning Over a New Leaf? We're Ready to Forgive You, so Come Back!

Miley Cyrus has been seen sporting a new style, as she goes out and about to promote her new album.

There's a different hairstyle, and a different dress sense. It seems the Miley of 2013, with all the bad fashion sense, the bad role-modelling, and the bad influence on our culture is all gone.

Honestly, I was quite upset at what Miley did back in 2013. But it's been four years, and it's long enough for one to be forgiven. Miley Cyrus remains one of the best singers of our generation, and she deserves a second chance.

In other words: we're ready to forgive you, Miley, so please stage a huge comeback!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

The Manchester Attacks Should Cause Major Changes. Anything Less Means No Justice.

Over the past few years, the increasing frequency of terrorist attacks have caused increasing levels of anger and frustration among the good people of the Western world. After each attack, we hope and pray that it would be the last, and that some miracle would happen to save us from having to see any more. But that miracle never comes. The Manchester attacks have caused a particular sadness and anger in many people, because many of the victims were children. Only the most evil and depraved beings (I won't use human here because they are not) would even think of doing something like that. While many people have sadly become sort of numb towards terrorist attacks in recent years, the Manchester attacks have shocked us out of our dangerous complancency, because it begs a fundamental question. If the West cannot even guarantee the safety of its children, what values does it still stand for?

Given the gravity of the situation, many of us demand major changes. Major changes in the way we, as a society, talk about the situation we are in. Major changes in government policies aimed at bringing an end to the terror threats. And yet, those major changes have not happened. The way our leaders seem to go on their business as usual almost makes me miss George W. Bush. At least he appeared serious enough about the need to tackle terrorism (even though he probably wasn't, in reality). Compare that to Donald Trump, who doesn't seem to have done anything much about the biggest issue of our time having already spent more than four months in office. I will not mince my words here: from what I see, Donald Trump is not strong enough on terrorism. The 'Make America Great Again' crowd needs to stop giving him a free pass on this issue.

Our cultural leaders and commentators aren't much better, though. While many have shown great passion for tackling climate change, the same cannot be said about tackling the threat of terrorism. While climate change may cause losses of life decades down the track, terrorism has already caused many deaths to date. If there is an urgent need to address climate change (and I believe there is), why isn't there an even more urgent need to address the terror threat? Can you seriously look into the eye of a mother who has just lost her daughter, and tell her that terrorism is a less important issue than climate change?

Here are three major changes I would like to see. It's the very least we can do at this point in time.

We Need to Talk About the Issue of Racism and Disaffection
Many experts have said that the perception of racism and disaffection among young Muslims living in the West is driving them towards radicalisation.

I agree that we have to address the racism and Islamophobia that is present in our communities. It is not OK to discriminate on the basis of race or religion, ever. In addition, it is not OK to dismiss the religious practices of ethnic minorities. For example, non-Muslims should refrain from commenting on headscarves, let alone calling for restricting their use. Governments and politicians should also follow these rules: don't ever behave like former Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

On the other hand, the campaign to increase the perception of racism everywhere needs to be stopped. If the perception of racism is an important driver of radicalisation, causing people to see racism where there is none would potentially lead to more radicalisation. Moreover, promoting divisive theories in a time where we need to be united against an existential threat like terrorism is really inappropriate and irresponsible. We probably need to let go of things like microaggression theory and cultural appropriation theory, if just for the sake of our collective safety.

We Need to Talk About the Causes of Terrorism Frankly
The racism of the far-right and the political correctness of the far-left have both served to muddy the waters, when it comes to talking about the causes of terrorism. The far-right would like to paint all Muslims with the same brush, in order to justify their exclusionary outlook. On the other hand, the far-left would like us to tip-toe around the fact that some people appear to be born with an inclination towards evil. Both approaches are not helpful. We need to be able to frankly discuss the causes of evildoing. There appear to be both causes related to society, and causes related to personal factors.

We Need to Prioritize the Fight Against Terrorism. All of Us Together.
I understand that we all have things that we care about the most. For me, it is the concept of liberty and the twin ideals of liberalism and libertarianism. But still, we need to be able to unite in the fight against terrorism, whatever our creed. I remember that, post-911, the Western world was able to do that for a while. Why can't we bring that back?

No matter where you are in the West, you would have noticed a return of the protest culture of the 1960s and 70s in recent years. 2017 in particular has seen many mass protests, with the Women's March being perhaps the most famous one. Why can't we also have a march in solidarity against terrorism? Right or left; white, black or brown; gay or straight; male or female; Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu or Buddhist, everyone should be welcome in such a march.

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