Faith vs Feminism

(Throughout this blog, I’m going to be referring to Catholicism quite a lot. This is only because I am a Catholic, and it’s the one I have most experience with. I am wholly accepting that other faiths might pose different challenges for young men and women, but since I’m not experienced in any other religion it would be wrong of me to refer to such and try and represent their main beliefs and values)

I have been challenged a few times about how I can be a practicing Catholic, but also a feminist. I get why it can be difficult for people to understand. This generation seems to be more open minded and clued up on ‘taboo’ issues than generations before. People aren’t scared to talk about things like sexuality and abortion, which is amazing since people were and some still are oppressed to talk about these things. However, when you compare this to the historic writings of the Church and some of it’s arguably rigid beliefs, it’s quite a stark contrast.

It’s this stark contrast that I think can estrange young people from their faith. People are arguably more accepting of sexualities beyond heterosexuality, and talking about contraception and abortion isn’t as condemned as it once was. So I get it. I get why people are asking themselves whether they want to keep practising their faith or not when their social views and religious beliefs conflict. I’m not here to tell you to go to mass nor am I here to preach to anybody. What I’m trying to say is that it doesn’t have to be one or the other, although you might be getting taught otherwise.

I went to a Catholic primary and secondary school. I made all the relevant sacraments for my age group, and now at 20 I still go to mass. Going to Catholic schools means the teaching is based off a Catholic curriculum – I am grateful for this curriculum, it taught me a lot about my faith. However, it could be seen as dated. I know that for me, sitting in a Catholic classroom hearing the Church’s traditional view on homosexuality and abortion made me quite uncomfortable. I loved my faith, and almost didn’t want to hear about the parts of it that conflicted with my views on sexuality and women’s rights. I’d hate to think that there’s young people whose sexuality is anything other than heterosexual, going through school feeling they can’t be themselves because of the prevalence of religion throughout their school. Or young people that have had an abortion, feeling like they are abnormal because they are being taught abortion is wrong.

It doesn’t have to be as black and white as this. I can understand the Church’s views on sexuality, abortion and contraception, but I don’t agree with them. It is okay if you don’t too. I can understand why people think the Church’s stance on a number of issues are dated and even problematic. It is okay for your religion and your thoughts and opinions on other things to conflict, it doesn’t mean you have to choose. This is why we have faith, to help us deal with the things we don’t understand. Anything that is troubling you, anything you don’t understand about the world or the Church or yourself, is part of your own relationship between God and yourself and your own faith journey. If you practise your faith and put it into action, God isn’t going to turn round at the gates of heaven and be like “no the night, mate” just cos you support gay marriage, and are pro-choice, or you are homosexual or you have the copper coil or you’ve had an abortion. Just be the best person you can, religion and sexuality doesn’t have to be polarized!

“The Lord your God is merciful; God will not abandon or destroy you.”

Generally Electing

It seems like no matter how many tweets and texts and ranting and raving I do, I still have more to say about the general election campaign. With that in mind, I thought this was good grounds upon which to make a wee comeback to the blog!

I really like election time, I think the build up and the debate are exciting particularly in Scotland post-independence referendum – it’s class! I seen a lot of harsh debating, aye, but I seen a lot of folk from opposing sides genuinely just helping each other out on social media etc this time around. A lot a people were posting about how they were undecided with their pals on social media responding and asking about their constituency and helping them find somebody that suited them. I think this time, people just tried to raise the importance of voting altogether and encourage as many people to do the same regardless of what party! But this election was really tough for me, and I know for a lot of others too. I’m only 20 but I voted for the first time when I was 17 in the independence referendum and since then have lost count of referenda and local and general votes that have cropped up. Although it feels like we haven’t been out of the polling stations over the past few years, this general election posed a great challenge for me. Do I vote for the SNP and try n ‘strengthen Scotlands voice’ and basically concede to the acceptance of another Tory govt? Or do I vote Labour, compromise independence for a time and support Corbyns unparalleled socialist manifesto despite Scottish Labour’s discrepancies?

I’ve always found it quite hard finding a party that totally represented me. I have a lot of respect for individuals like Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black as strong and successful female role models, but I don’t like the SNP and their diluted so-called ‘socialist’ policies. I really like the Greens, Patrick Harvie is a refreshing and positive influence, but their inconsistent approach to Catholic schooling has challenged me a wee bit. I was a member of the SSP for a while also, but I sorta grew apart from the party once the formation of RISE came about. Voting Labour seemed like a no-go ever again after the inept running of Scottish Labour and their cosying up the Tories in the past and in the lead up to the independence referendum. And there was no chance I was voting Tory.

I sorta had to give myself a bit of a shake. Aye, do you know what – it is shite living in Scotland and feeling like you have to make the best of a bad bunch when finding a party that you can truly align with. But am I going to spend more time feeling sorry for myself that I’m not 1000% represented by any one party or am I going to work with what’s on offer and use my vote to to incite positive change not just for me but for the many?

SO, that said – giving myself a shake is exactly what I did. I felt like Corbyn’s manifesto was the strongest and most progressive manifesto I’d seen in recent years and it really resonated with me. And I know the argument – ‘How can you vote for Labour knowing the tragedy of Scottish Labour? And what about independence?’ Aye, do you know what – Scottish Labour just aren’t too sharp but how could I call myself a socialist and look back on years to come knowing that I passed up on that manifesto? Independence is important to me, and I do believe I’ll see independence in my life time, but it’s something I’m willing to compromise for a time in an attempt to see change on a greater scale across the UK. It was always going to be hard for Corbyn to gain a majority and find himself in No.10, but I see the seats he gained, the prevention of a Tory majority and the opposition he has now built as a success, not a loss. I know that when I look back on this election I will be happy knowing that I stuck to my beliefs, and voted for the manifesto that I believed would be the most likely to tackle the struggles of the many and to oppose a divisive and unequal society. Maybe it will pay off, maybe it won’t  – but I didn’t want to tactically vote!

Social Media is your best and worst friend in the build up to an election. When you’re connected with all like-minded people on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc it can seem like everybody thinks the same as you and it can lure you into a false sense of security. If I had judged the electoral outcome based on my Twitter, I coulda stuck a score on a Labour landslide and Jeremy Corbyn as PM – the same way social media had me thinking Scotland would be independent and we would DEFINITELY remain in the EU..

It’s this false sense of security that can sometimes make people think they don’t really have to vote or talk to as many folk as they can about politics – but we do! That’s one thing that I’ve taken from this election – the importance of the vote. Women were imprisoned, on hunger strike, being force fed with Emily Davison even dying for the cause of votes for women. Equal voting rights were fought for, for years and with that in mind especially, the right to vote is truly valuable – for all genders! You hear a lot of people saying “Awk, my vote doesn’t count” “I’m just going to waste the ballot” but theres a reason why there are often re-counts on election night – a few votes really can make the difference. I completely get why people are scunnered and want to waste their ballot, cause you can vote in 48393 elections over your life and feel like none of them go your way. It was sore not waking up to Jeremy Corbyn as PM and hearing the Tories looking to pair up with the DUP, it hurts and it’s frustrating when the results aren’t how you would like. Regardless, would you rather wake up unhappy with the election result, but knowing you at least done your bit and tried for your morals and beliefs, or would you rather not vote and wake up to a system or a party that you don’t like because you’ve written your side off before the final whistle?

For the many x

 

This Land is Your Land

The likely possibility of a second independence referendum was announced only a matter of hours ago and I had to write something already. I didn’t think I’d see another referendum in my lifetime and the potential of a second one in over a year or so makes me both excited and sick. Excited because the prospect of an independent Scotland, consequently more just, equal and democratic is beyond appealing. Sick, because the thought of losing the battle for a wholly autonomous Scotland and having my heart broken all over again makes me really nervous!

It’s being argued by opposing parties and other people in Scotland that a second referendum shouldn’t even be being considered, it was a ‘once in a lifetime’ event and it should be left as the first one finished. Jeremy Corbyn even tweeted earlier that there is “no appetite” for an Independent Scotland. Firstly, I think it’s a bit insulting that an MP who practices in an English constituency thinks he has a grasp of the Scottish appetite for independence and secondly – he’s right. There’s no appetite for a second referendum – from the Labour party anyway, who lost their reputation in Scotland years ago. I can understand why some people are annoyed that theres going to be a potential second referendum after it was sold as a ‘once in a lifetime’ affair – but so much has changed since the last time.

Most notably, Brexit. Before the Independence referendum, we were told that if we remained part of the UK we would be guaranteed a continued relationship with the EU. We remained part of the UK. Fast forward two years, the referendum on EU membership is held. Scotland vote to remain – the rest of the UK vote to leave. We are leaving the EU, after being promised continued membership of the EU if we remained as part of the Union. The results of the EU referendum are reflective of how the voting system in the general election always works in Scotlands favour – yes we have our own devolved government but our autonomy is limited. We voted to remain in the EU, yet we’re outnumbered by England so we are being made to leave. We don’t get a say in things like defense and whether we’re going to go to war or not – our voices are lost in the big so-called ‘democratic’ void. It feels only right that we try n gain full autonomy for our country as our voices are continuously drowned out by the Torys ruling in Westminster, passing legislation that we don’t want.

Another thing that makes me want to get soooooooo far out the UK is the cosy dynamic between Theresa May and Donald Trump. The politics of both politicians are divisive and dangerous and the prospect of them creating an even cosier alliance between the UK and the US, sitting back and tolerating the hate and intolerance being peddled by Trump across America makes me really feart.

There’s a lot of work to do. I think it goes without saying there is people out there who voted No the first time, who were betrayed as Westminster went back on their pre-referendum promises about ‘more power for Scotland’ and ‘membership of the EU’ who would vote yes this time around – but that doesn’t mean we can sit back and assume everybody will vote yes by default. The Scottish Government will have to build a strong case for the economy to gain the trust of potential yes voters, particularly so in a time where the economy and trading agreements are under increasing pressure consequent to Brexit. Additionally to this, let it not be forgotten that a vote for Independence is not a vote for the SNP. Yes, we have the SNP to thank for putting the first and now the second referendum on the table – but its no secret that they’re not the progressive, inclusive party they make out to be. It’s understanding why people don’t want to vote Yes incase they’re seen to be supportive of the partys politics because they need some serious work** – but any chat about being pro independence must mean you’re pro SNP as well is nonsense. Parties aside, just put your country first and decide on a better life for yourself, the generations after you and the people who are worse off. This is it x

** Here is some other things I’ve written about the SNP and some of their legislation here:

https://equalheartsequalrights.wordpress.com/2016/09/29/the-polis/
https://equalheartsequalrights.wordpress.com/2016/05/03/no-votes-snp/

International Womens Day 2017

IWD 2017 –  Be Bold for Change

I’ve written about feminism a good bit on this blog, but it was only fitting that I wrote something for International Womens Day. This years theme is ‘be bold for change’, a concept which can be difficult. It’s challenging for many to be bold about their struggles as a woman when feminism is still a dirty word for some people. But similarly, being bold might be the only way we can make any progress.

There are lots of sub-categories and approaches to feminism, that can make it appear like a difficult ideology to understand. Simply put, a feminist wants equality for both genders. Some people think that because the term is “Feminism” that it’s just for women and womens struggle, but that’s not the case. If you want gender equality and aren’t comfortable with the term ‘feminist’, that’s cool, you can label yourself whatever you like. “Feminism” is the chosen term as it gives a nod to the systematic oppression of women which sees them impacted significantly more by the arguably patriarchal society which we all live in, but of course men suffer their own struggles too which feminism doesn’t ignore.

I see a lot of nonsense on Twitter and Facebook etc that sort a criminalises feminists. While feminism is less of a taboo subject than it has been in the past, it is still a bit of a dirty word for some people. Feminism isn’t the same concept of militancy and extreme demonstration as it was in the early 20th century. There are different forms of ‘feminist’ but the idea is all the same – equal treatment and opportunities for both genders. Of course it going to be a challenge, particularly when feminism has to apply to all women and men across all races, religions, sexualities and social classes. But that shouldn’t be a scapegoat. We can’t be like “fuck that, there’s no chance” when there’s women at the other side of the world dying for an education or the right to wear a bra. Or when there’s men suffering with mental health because they don’t correlate with the media’s hyper-masculine ideals about how they should act and look.

I’m not going to sit here and say it’s dead rosy being a feminist and advocating equal rights, we all know its not. It’s hard declaring your opinion when feminists are portrayed as a reckless, militant rabble of women – which is why we need more guys. We need more guys to stick their neck out and ignore this institutionalised idea that feminism is only for women, and lead by example. Show other men that this isn’t the case and there’s benefits to be felt by all genders. We shouldn’t be measuring our support of a cause by “what’s in it for us” or “feminism? Aye I’ve got a daughter, a wife, a sister.. better get involved.” We should be showing support regardless of personal gain or relevance, just putting all that aside and recognising that there’s people struggling and we should all be helping each other out a wee bit!

Whilst it shouldn’t be a big deal to be a feminist, the reality is that currently there are still a lot of people who think its cool and quirky to oppose the idea, even further encouraging the struggle of humans under the patriarchy. I think it’d be class that during this week of International Women’s Day, girls, and guys who are under represented in the cause, who haven’t really shown much interest in feminism before, think about being bold for change – the more the merrier!

Fake News

Its difficult to digest how much turmoil the world is in – right now more than ever before. Its difficult to avoid despair when people like Donald Trump are being given mounds of power.
Journalism has many faces. For many it’s a misleading, biased, fount of propaganda –  conflicting with its intital purpose of neutrally informing the public. Writers have faced a great challenge to gain credibility in a media world that is turbulent and at times corrupt. How discouraging must it be, then, when Trump sends them back to the start with his take on “fake news”. It’s laughable that the president thinks that you can grant any negative press as false, if only it were that easy in general terms. “He said I didny buy the last round? Bullshit mate.” “What do you mean, ‘I’m a Hearts fan’? Lot a fuckin nonsense”

I’ve tried to avoid writing about Trump for a few reasons and I keep correcting myself. One, does he really deserve the attention? Well, aye he does. He’s destroying America n maybe potentially the world, the guy has to be held to account. Another thing was that I feel like he’s almost becoming a bit of an old joke, like a dodgy cliché. I can’t help but feel like maybe everything that can be said about Trump has already been said, and that he’s an almost ‘overdone’ topic. But then again, it feels like every day you wake up and the guys done something else. Even at that, all we know is what’s getting reported. Who knows what else he’s up to that’s falling through the net. I don’t know. Can holding an ignorant facist to account really become ‘overdone’???

I’m not entirely sure where I’m trying to go with this. I think what I’m trying to say, is that right now we need writing more than ever. Not just writing, but voices. It can seem hopeless when we’re constantly calling out wrong actions and identifying injustice in our own country and beyond and nothings being done. But that doesn’t mean we should give up, it sounds so cliché man but its dead easy to be like “¯\_(ツ)_/¯, we’ve tried, nobodys listening, just let the hatred, discrimination and criminalisation unfold – we’ve done our bit” but nooooo. I’m not claiming to be a writer of any considerable credibility or influence but I don’t have to be, none of us do. I think we all have to sort a band together n oppose, not just Trump, but people in power everywhere who try to monopolise the media in addition to their existing wealth of power (and money lol). Even people closer to home man, people in Holyrood and Westminster passing through policies impacting the people most vulnerable, Start wee and build big, it’s too easy to just be like “doesny affect us, not even from America”, but look on ur own doorstep! There’s people losing their homes because of policies like the Bedroom Tax n innocent people getting lifted watching the football at the weekend under flawed legislation like the OBFA (the chances of which you will have heard of either in the news is unlikely.) Nobody should have the approach that “if it doesn’t affect you it doesn’t matter”, which is what most of us are like when it comes to the situation in America. But if that’s the position you find yourself in, look at what’s happening in your own country. Start opposing injustice in your own country and community and build big. Corruption and prejudice aren’t one-state problems, and that’s what the danger is with people like Trump. These dangers are normalised by people with his influence, spreading the problem across nations and causing divisions across race and social class and gender all across the world. Lets not be scared of fighting oppression by the threat of your voice being lost in the void or “fake news”, the battle against the dodgy like Trump and other questionable word leaders can start on your own wee doorstep. Pipe up!

 

Burstin Bubbles

I am right ashamed at how bad I’ve gotten at keeping the posts on here as frequent as possible, but as a sort a New Years resolution I’m going to try and get back at it. I’m confident that I’m not the only person who has written something like what you’re about to read and I’m a bit conscious of it sounding a bit clichéd but it was on my mind and this is what the full blogging shift is all about isn’t it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

After what happened in Turkey on New Years Eve, I was thinking about how horrendously frequent these sort of attacks are and how we’re not really the best at responding to them. It’s really easy to hear about these acts of violence and terror and forget about them an hour later because it doesn’t affect you – most people won’t like to admit that but its true. It feels like they happen so far from you that because you aren’t impacted by any of the consequences of these disasters, that it isn’t happening at all. But the worst part about this is that, we all seem quite happy to continue living like that, in a wee bubble where aye we can nod and acknowledge that these events are atrocious and we’ll dedicate an hour or two to think it over and a facebook status to commemorate the fatalities, and then get back to our day.

It’s became apparent since the rise of social media that the main way to make folk really pay any sort a attention to these events it by linking the situation to themselves. The most common, almost cliché one is stuff like “A terrorist attack in Paris? I was there just a few months ago.” I might be being really picky here as well but even things on Facebook like “Feeling really grateful/blessed for what I have around me right now after hearing the bad news from Istanbul tonight” doesn’t really sound the best either. Like of course it’s very understandable that these harrowing events can remind you of how fortunate you are to live in a country that isn’t torn apart by war or terror, but these events aren’t insinuated for that purpose. The folk responsible don’t carry out these attacks with the intent of imposing reality checks upon us all. We are all guilty here but it absolutely shouldn’t take a massacre thousands of miles from your home for you to realize how fortunate you are. What I’m really trying to say is that we should be grateful for what we have already without being reminded to be grateful in comparison to those who are down on their luck – to say the least – elsewhere. So that when these events do happen, we know how fortunate we are already and are prepared to not just be thankful for our fortunate position, but maybe think about how we can use that position to help those in need.

Like I said before, it is so so easy to hear this kind a news and forget about it now and I think there’s a good few reasons for this. Firstly, the media don’t report half as much as we think. The picture we are painted in the tabloid press of places like Aleppo and Gaza are horrific, but they are nowhere near accurate in portraying how abysmal the conditions are. The awful attacks we will hear about in Europe and America, happen in places like Syria and Palestine daily – even hourly – and they go unreported. It’s not just a lack of reporting, often what is reported is inaccurate, biased and sometimes just overcomplicated because they don’t really want us to wholly understand the atrocities that are happening elsewhere, often with the financial aid of our own government. We have no idea how abysmal the conditions and the continuous violence and terror in these places are – I’m not saying this is an excuse to turn a blind eye, but it’s something to be considered about why its really easy for us to remain in this state of ignorant bliss, because while we know about terrorism and violence and discrimination we are not really anywhere near aware of the scale. If we were aware, I’d like to think we’d all care that wee bit more.

Another reason is that all of this violence is becoming almost normal. This can be uncomfortable for a lot of us to admit but as time goes on and terror and destruction are more frequent, the shock factor sort of wears thin for people. It’s like if its 7pm at night and a car alarm near your house starts going off. It’s loud and you can’t concentrate but by 8pm it’s still ringing and you’re oblivious to it. You grow almost immune to the agony, and we can’t be okay with letting this happen. Sure we can empathise and hurt for other people and we can share their pain and sorrow, but we can’t just do that for an hour or so until we have a think for a while, stick a banner on a profile picture and return to our normal lives. These things are nice to do, like they show solidarity and everybody has their own ways of doing that but I just don’t think it’s enough. I think it would be class if we all tried to shake this subconscious compliance we all have to remain in this wee bubble where the stuff that’s happening around the globe isn’t really our problem because it doesn’t affect us. I’m not saying that we all have to acquire arms and overthrow all the dictatorships and terrorists of the day, but even if we just cared that wee bit extra to know more. I’m sure I mentioned this in a previous post about homelessness but with issues like these, awareness is maaaassive. Like it’s hard to find information about the true injustices and the scale and consequences of these injustices because the mainstream media often don’t cover them, but if we look hard enough we can find it! Yes it’s uncomfortable reading about these things, it’s hard to accept that other humans can be so cruel and horrendous, but the people that they are doing these things to are humans too. I think it would be so cool if we all got to a stage where we could shake this idealistic mindset where we’re getting by everyday not really being too fussed by what’s going on out with our own life. It’s a bit of a typical thing to say but we’re all human, regardless of age and gender and religion and race – and its silly that we all have to keep reminding each other of this. As people like Donald Trump get into power, we can’t let these discriminative attitudes become normalised. Every individual is entitled to the same quality of life and that’s why we can’t become complacent in how we respond to violence and terror. While its right easy to stay in the comfort of our wee bubbles, maybe 2017 is the year we looked into bursting them!

Feminism is Footery

Feminism can be dead tricky. When you look at places like Iceland whose recognition of womens rights is more than respectable and compare it to elsewhere in the world it can be right disheartening.  Whilst there is still a long way to go in putting feminism into practise intersectionally, the concept is becoming more of a day-to-day topic of discussion than ever before. Years ago feminism was largely associated with idea of militancy and violence – scary connotations which deterred lots of folk from getting involved with the concept. The negative stigma hasn’t entirely dissolved and remains something which makes people hesitant to associate with the concept of feminism even though they still desire the same aim of equality of the sexes – which is cool, there’s no pressure to identify as anything you don’t want to! However, whilst a previously taboo subject, Feminism is becoming an increasingly more comfortable topic to approach in casual discussion – why?

I reckon the big player in this is the media. The oppression of females is institutionalised in society and it is evident in the majority of media outlets. Women are portrayed using harmful and restrictive stereotypes – they always have been, but the difference is now that people are starting to notice.

Raising awareness for any cause is the first, last and most important step. The accessibility of social media is a massive thing to consider. It’s easier now than ever before to access feminist material (if you want to, I know its not for everyone!) and the simple act of seeing and sharing raises awareness like nothing else. All it takes is one person to see something on the telly or online that is discriminative towards women and within an hour, thousands of people have seen it. People recognising harmful language and stereotypes in the media and sharing it on their social media takes the best part of 10 seconds and, whilst increasing awareness, also normalises the topic of feminism in a way which we probably don’t even realise.

Whilst feminism is becoming less of a taboo subject compared to previous years, it isn’t any less complex. There is still lots of work to be done for the cause, and it’s always going to be difficult when there’s so many people involved. For feminism to be a successful movement, all races, genders, sexualities, religions social classes and age groups must be considered and represented equally, and that can sound overwhelming but we can’t be disheartened. Iceland wasn’t built in a day x