15 Year Old Receives Lengthy Sexist Spring Formal Dress Code

It has been long argued in feminism that the road of gender inequality begins in school, where we are taught that girls and boys are supposed to act and be treated differently – from subject choices, to playground fun, to uniform.

One school, Metro Academic Studies in Atlanta US, has taken girls’ dress codes to the extreme with their sexist rules for their spring formal attire.

With the long list of rules urging female students to wear riding shorts underneath their dresses and to measure each bit of skin on show, and less than two lines for the male students, Flannery Bogost, 15, says her school is simply teaching its students that a woman’s worth depends on what she’s wearing.

Flannery received this dress code with her sign up form for the spring formal, “My reaction to it was just disbelief,” she said.

The 15 year old student was shocked that the school couldn’t see the issue in giving girls considerably more rules in the dress code than the boys, “My school is more on the conservative side, often indicating that what females wear somehow define your level of professionalism or tastefulness.”

The problem with this, according to Flannery is that schools such as hers are raising girls to see themselves in terms of how men will judge them and eventually lose their own identity.

“The wider message this is sending to society is that somehow what a woman wears defines her worth and when we teach this to young females, we are teaching them to objectify themselves and other women,” Flannery warned.

She continued, “When girls are brought up surrounded by these rules and people telling them how to look and act, we are teaching them to lose sight of themselves and only do what men think appropriate.”

Standing up to your school can be hard, however, as students often don’t have as much of a voice and power as teachers. “There is definitely more both I and other students can do to better resolve this issue though,” Flannery said.

MPs in the UK have recently debated sexist dress codes in the workplace following a petition where women are fighting against being told that they have to wear high heels and revealing clothing.

What’s interesting is that females are told throughout school they mustn’t look sexual, only for them to be told the opposite once they reach the workplace, showing a women have to adapt to society’s demands on their appearances without any say themselves.

“A person’s style or sexuality should never affect how seriously we take them and how they are treated in every day life,” Flannery said, but unfortunately, this is exactly what schools appear to be preparing females to face throughout their whole life.

Birmingham girls have a night in for Women’s History Month

Women’s History Month has been celebrated by Birmingham based organisation mOmhead, as they hosted a Girls Night In event.

The evening, on March 31, celebrated the month with the theme of ‘the forgotten women in history’, and was an opportunity for women to meet other women similar to them.

To spark conversation on the women in history seldom spoken about, a hanging gallery was displayed in Digbeth’s Impact Hub, made up with fact files on women such as Indian special agent Noor Inayat Khan and Mexican artist Frida Khalo.

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Kiran, of mOmhead, said, “We wanted to bring these important figures in history to the forefront and celebrate how they had contributed to our world. As we work mainly with BAME [black, Asian, an minority ethnic] girls and young women, we felt it was important that this representation was at the forefront of the night.”

The evening was filled with women of all ages and backgrounds meeting one and other, discussing women’s issues, celebrating their and other women’s achievement, all the while enjoying virgin margaritas and tacos.

“We also laid out a giant roll of paper across a few tables and asked women “what does being a woman mean to you” and left sharpies and pens all around to allow them to create a mural of their thoughts,” Kiran said.

mOmhead’s Girls Nights In events have been running since September 2016, and Kiran said the idea came from a lack of places for girls to hang out, “We started Girls Night In because we were frustrated that we couldn’t find anything to do on a Friday night that wasn’t something that either breaks the bank or is the same old thing.”

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Being a female-only event meant that Girls Night In became a comfortable environment for women to socialise and meet other, “There’s no chill out spots that are female only, like boys have their snooker halls and casinos (even though they’re mixed space, they can be very male dominated) where they just go and jam,” said Kiran. “So we aimed to achieve a space that young women felt safe, empowered. A central space where women come together and connect, communicate and create community all whilst having some good food and drink, listening to music and engaging in empowering activities.”

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The Girls Night In events mOmhead run are just a small part of what they do, as they also work as a fashion company.

Kiran said, “We produce ethical clothing with the message of empowerment behind it, either in design or in how it’s made.”

Money from the clothes are then put into mOmhead’s second organisation GirlDreamer,

We run school programmes for teenage girls that is aimed at developing their present personal confidence to empower their futures. We will also be creating the UK’s first BAME Longboarding group to tackle issues surrounding body image, confidence and participation in sport as well as launching a YouTube channel that will do what our brand is all about: educate, elevate and empower but through digital means.”

The next Girls Night In event is on Friday 12th May at the Impact Hub, Birmingham, with ex-military and current photojournalist Alison Baskerville attending to run a self-defence class.

Why Emma Watson’s Beauty and the Beast is the feminist flick we needed

It’s a tale as old as time – helpless damsel falls in love with powerful prince and they live happily ever after.

However, since the turn of the century, cinema-goers have grown tired of this narrative.

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Instead, we want films where the girl saves the day, and does so while having success of her own.

Beauty and the Beast has always stood out as one of the empowering Disney princess films, alongside Mulan and Frozen, in striking contrast between the likes of Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.

Belle didn’t want to just be adored for her looks, marry to become a trophy wife, or keep her mind as small as her town.

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She wanted to read. She wanted to learn. She wanted to travel.

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I say Belle would totally be a feminist.

When Disney announced it was turning the 1991 classic animated film into a live action version, with Emma Watson as Belle, I have to admit I did a mini fist bump*.

(*Read: massive jump for joy and squeal of excitement.)

Emma has made a name for herself as a feminist icon, with her involvement with the UN in her #HeForShe project, her feminist book club Our Shared Shelf, and the countless times she has spoken out in feminism’s favour.

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With all this, we knew Emma would do Belle justice, and then some.

And she did not disappoint.

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Although Disney wanted to honour the iconic animated version by preserving what we love about it, it got on board with the 21st century mind-set that our princess heroines need to have a little more substance to them.

With this, Belle was given a back story.

We were shown immediately that she was just as skilled as her father in inventing, helping him with his machines from the beginning of the film to the end. We were told how her mother died, turning her from merely the woman who gave birth to Belle but to someone who was just as clever and strong as her daughter.

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As well as this, Beauty and the Beast featured another new scene where Belle demonstrates her innovative thinking, making an ahead of her time washing apparatus using her horse. A little girl sees her doing this and wants to learn more, leading to Belle helping her learn how to read.

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In moments such as these, Belle is shown as a progressive character – someone who wants to achieve new things and help others do the same too. The little girl wanting to learn more from Belle shows the hope Disney has for the young viewers of Beauty and the Beast. They want them too to look up to Belle and want to expand their mind.

Another bold move Belle makes is by demonstrating her capacity for choice throughout the whole movie.

In the 1991 version, while it is her choice to take her father’s place as the beast’s prisoner, and to go back and rescue said beast at the end, the male characters around her are instrumental in these decisions. Her father agrees to her sacrifice, and Chip, the adorably alive tea cup, repowers her father’s machine to travel back to the castle. In the remake, Belle forces her father out of the prison cell using the strength of her words and her body, and also comes up with her own idea on how to get back to the castle using her knowledge of lock picking and fearless travelling.

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These little changes are instrumental in reworking Belle from a clever, strong and progressive character, to a full on badass.

We know how much little girls look up to Disney princesses – I mean how many of them wanted to be Elsa for Christmas 2013. But with the new Beauty and the Beast, instead of them growing up wanting to be the girl who gets locked away just to fall in love, they now want to be the girls interested in learning and doing the same jobs as their fathers.

While we can say that most Disney films were already heading towards a less traditional narrative – with sisterly, not romantic, love being the main storyline in Frozen – Beauty and the Beast’s bold moves against shying away from the fear of changing too much from the original, (including opening the conversation on LeFou’s sexuality), can teach our society that we must do the same.

The film and its characters are telling us to be bold and tell our stories, and not to live in the shadow of what is expected of you as a woman or as someone in love.

On that note, I thank Beauty and the Beast for giving us a new fairytale to aspire to – one based on choice, realising your potential, and strength to be yourself.

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Birmingham City University Speaks Out for Female Empowerment

Birmingham City University launched its very own Women Speak Out event in light of International Women’s Day on 8 March.

The university joined many others across the UK to speak out for female empowerment with a campaign of powerful images.

The Women Speak Out campaign started off at Oxford University 4 years ago, and has recently made its way to Birmingham City University (BCU).

Seeing the success of the Oxford Speak Out campaigns, BCU’s Agape society decided to launch their own, inviting girls to take pictures writing inspiring messages on their body that they wanted to share with other women.

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

The powerful photographs contained messages of motivation to other women, like “We can and we will,” and “Know your worth.”

(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

Following this, an exhibition was held, showcasing the photographs and allowing visitors to share their own messages on post-it notes.

Credit: Instagram/WomenSpeakOutBCU 

Sandeep, from the Agape Life society was a key part in running the Women Speak Out, sat down with Feminist Fairground after the exhibition to rave about the success of the empowering event.

“The overall message we’re trying to get across is to empower women to know their worth, know that they’re loved and to get girls united from all different backgrounds,” said Sandeep.

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

“My favourite image is one I did with my best friend and Lydia, who’s been running BCU Speak Out too. We’re all of different backgrounds, but the image shows we are all equal regardless of skin colour,” Sandeep said. “It’s so powerful, especially with what’s going on in the media today I think it’s very much needed.”

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

Campaigns like this are important in encouraging women to use their voices to tell the world their stories with relatable quotes.

“With the messages that these girls are giving, they have stories behind them – they’re not just clichés,” said Sandeep. “It’s beautiful that we can share meaningful stories like this. And it’s also needed to push for equality.”

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

BCU Women Speak Out is a fantastic example of a feminist event that is all inclusive, with Sandeep saying, “We can all come together with a common cause; that we just want women to be valued – but not just women, men too.”

Despite only featuring women in the photos, BCU Women Speak Out is a campaign inclusive for men also, as Sandeep said, “We’ve had men come along and write really good inspiring messages as well. That’s been great.”

BCU Women Speak Out has been met with more than positive reception all round.

Sandeep gushed, “From word of mouth and through social media this has really blown up bigger than expected and people have seen what we’re doing and loved it.”

Sandeep took a moment to give praise to the photographer, SnapScratch’s Rebecca Chivers for taking the images professionally, “It meant people could see we did not do this half-heartedly, we wanted to go big for our first time.”

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

BCU Women Speak Out want their images to create a lasting impression on women: that they are valued and created with purpose.

“For women, in the media there is a representation that we should fit a certain standard, that we should do this and do that, so through our images women can actually come together and empower one and other to know that are valued as they are.”

There’s more to expect from BCU Speak Out, as they head towards launching their next event for women.

“What’s next is a follow on event from the Agape Student Life society called What Women Want, and it’s 3 sessions and the first one focuses on identity. Since we’re told to look a certain way it’s important for us to sit down and look at what our own identities are.”

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(Credit: Rebecca Chivers)

The first What Women Want session begins on the 8th of May., and more information can be found on the BCU Agape Student Life page.

To see more of the images taken by BCU Women Speak Out, visit their Instagram page.

Celebrities Inspire As They Rally On Social Media For International Women’s Day

Wednesday (8 March) was 2017’s annual International Woman’s day;  a day celebrating women’s achievements worldwide, as well as highlighting the struggles we still face.

This year kicked off with showbiz’s finest joining forces to rally together for the Women’s March on 21 January.

Since then, it seems the celebrities of today are not afraid to stand up for equality, and have shown there support this IWD with tweets, ‘grams, and Facebook posts galore.

Here are just a few of their powerful messages, shared not from their protest signs, but their smartphones:

JK Rowling

The author has never been one to shy away from Twitter trolls, and was no different to her usual sassy self on IWD, slaying all the haters.

Krysten ritter

Krysten has been tearing things down as Marvel’s Jessica Jones, but took to the ‘gram to remind women not to do the same to each other. She also reminded her followers of how to support IWD: by striking from work, refraining from shopping, or blacking out on social media.

Adele

Not only does Adele make beautiful music, but she also shares beautiful quotes like this one from Charlotte Whitton, the first female mayor in Canada, and all round badass feminist.

Yara shahidi

The 17 year old has already made a name for herself as an activist, using her platform to raise issues about representation, women in STEM, and launching her own online mentoring group, Yara’s Club, for young women. Yara wore a shirt inspired by Maya Angelo, in which buying it supports Emerge America, EMILY’s List, Essie Justice Group, Girls Who Code, NARAL, Planned Parenthood and The United State of Women.

Matt Healy

Matt Healy of the 1975 shared a thoughtful message on the importance in fighting for women’s rights for the rest of society.

Katy Perry

One of the most followed people on social media, Katy Perry, used Instagram to remind her followers of the Day Without Women strike that was happening worldwide, reposting from the Women’s March account.

Zara Larson

Singer Zara thanked Twitter’s women of colour for teaching about intersectional feminism.

Dan Howell

The YouTuber told his millions of followers of how beneficial feminism is to all, and that it is inclusive too.

Lindsay Lohan

LiLo has been hitting the headlines for her conversion to Islam lately, (not that her newfound faith is harming anyone!), however, she chose to show the world some beautiful words from the Prophet Mohammed.

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys looked ever the girl on fire showing us how fabulous it really is to be a woman.

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A post shared by Alicia Keys (@aliciakeys) on

Sophie Turner

The Game of Thrones actress took to Twitter on IWD to announce her patronage to Women for Women, an organisation that helps female survivors of war rebuild their lives. This is what International Women’s day is all about, sharing how we can help other women.

Sophia Bush

Actress and activist Sophia was yet another celeb to share how the public can show solidarity for IWD.

Sarah Michelle Gellar

Here we have an 18 year old quote that is still just as relevant today from Sarah’s 1999 iconic film Cruel Intentions.

Hopefully now the stars have taken to their smartphones in solidarity with feminism, their followers who were once too embarrassed or confused about the movement and days like International Women’s day will stand up and do the same too.

London Marches 4 Women with a Spectacular Turn Out

Thousands once again took to the streets of London to join forces and take part in the women’s march on Sunday 5 March.

The march took place 3 days before International Women’s day and was led by the influencial singer Annie Lennox.

In a powerful speech, she told the crowds: “We’re here as part of a collective voice, to amplify the message that global injustice and abuse has been endured by girls and women for centuries too long.”

Lennox also reminded the world that these marches are not to be done in vain – she called for everyone to collectively use their voice to spread the message of equality and advocate change.

Care International, The White Ribbon Alliance, Women For Refugee Women, The Fawcett Society, and The Circle were thanked for the work they are doing around the world to help girls and women and make a positive difference to the world.

Care International called it an “inspiring and amazing day,” and The Fawcett society said they were proud to partner up with Care International for such a wonderful turnout.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was also at the forefront of the march, leading a great example that women’s issues are men’s issues too, as he told the crowds, “This is what a feminist looks like.”

Jemima Elliot, a 17 year old marcher, told Feminist Fairground, “For me, the march showed the strong unity and solidarity against the issues facing women globally. It was also a celebration of women’s achievements. Marching means persistence, perseverance and striving to achieve our full potential whilst also doing whatever we can to help others.”

There are many messages that can be heard from March 4 Women; that we mustn’t grow accustomed to and normalise offensive locker room talk; that we must push for the an end to “glacially slow” change, in favour for action; that we must continue to use the voices we have to help the women who are voiceless; and that if you believe in fundamental human rights, equal opportunity, justice, respect and protection, you are a feminist.

“The word ‘feminism’ can mean different things to different people.
But let’s have no confusion about what feminism really means..
Simply put, feminism stands for fundamental human rights.. Equal opportunity.. Justice, respect and protection.” 

– Annie Lennox