What Katie Said

The War on Other Women

I was standing at Clapham Junction Station on Sunday waiting for my train when I felt someone’s eyes literally burning into the back of my head. I turned around to find a girl, no – a young woman about my age (twenty three) looking at me like I had murdered her mother, her father, her siblings, her grandma, her grandma’s dog, her grandma’s dog’s puppies, and her grandma’s dogs puppies’ puppies (too far?). Seriously, this girl was looking at me like DIRT. I’d never met her. I hadn’t even seen her before I had caught her looking at me. As far as I am aware, there was no reason for her to look at me like that at all. I caught her eye and as I did she gave me the dehumanising up and down look girls give you when they want you to feel self-conscious, and of course – I did. I am only human. I immediately started over-analysing what I was wearing, whether my legs looked fat, or my skirt was too floral, but then I thought – WHAT THE HELL?

The truth was that is wasn’t the first time I had been looked at like that by another woman and it definitely wouldn’t be the last because that’s apparently what women do to other women, and most of the time for no apparent reason. It sounds petty, and very high school drama, but we all know it still happens, and without a doubt we have all been given that horrid up and down look by our friends, our work colleagues, strangers, older women, young women…the list goes on.

I am simply just fed up with women waging war on other women. We all know that we are guilty of it. I am not going to deny that I haven’t caught myself looking at another girl in what may be perceived as a “bitchy look”. I didn’t intend on it being a “bitchy look” in anyway. I’ll be honest and say that if I did find myself taking notice of another girl’s appearance, it’s usually because I am feeling self-conscious. If I am accidentally giving the “stink eye” to a girl with amazingly beautiful long tanned legs it’s because I wish they were MY legs.

I know most women will not be as willing to admit this as me. Most women claim they don’t have a “bitchy” bone in their body (it’s usually these women who are the first to stab the knife in once your back is turned). BUT I know I am not alone. I have seen friends of mine who I know constantly worry about their weight, look the rest of us up and down OR stare at a part of their body and then a part of yours. COMPARING. This is normal in a way we live in a society where we are constantly reevaluating ourselves against others. That’s an issue, of course, but the issue I want to address is that these insecurities we are all harbouring are impacting our relationships and the the way we interact with other women.

There is absolutely no need to rip a girl to shreds with your eyes because you are envious or insecure. Even if you aren’t intending to look at her in that way, you need to be careful on how your actions may be interpreted. That’s the problem really – most women don’t even realise they are doing it (and if they do – then that’s a whole different issue) and definitely wouldn’t admit to doing it.

No one. No human has the right to make another human feel rubbish. AND – women? SERIOUSLY. We have bigger battles to fight than waging war on other women.

I am not saying I have the solution or I even understand the reasons why women turn against other women. I am sure that there are plenty of feminists out there who will blame men, but I don’t think there’s any solution in blaming men. I think this is a problem we need to take ownership of ourselves (even if you won’t admit to yourself that you do it). We need to be more conscious with how our actions (and looks) impact others. If you see a friend looking at another friend or even a random stranger – tell her she looks beautiful. If you catch yourself looking at another girl’s arms because they are slim and perfect and you think yours are fat – tell yourself you are beautiful (or go to the gym), and if you catch the eye of another girl giving you ‘evils’ – SMILE – and remind yourself that she’s probably fighting a battle you know nothing about.

When discussing this blog post with my male and female friends, I was told that this ‘women versus other women’ thing is an age old issue that probably will be never be resolved. I really hope that isn’t true. I really hope that one day if I have a daughter she can grow up in a world where women don’t feed off each others insecurities.

We need to stop waging war on other women.

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What Katie Did

UNHLP Round 3: Indonesia

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As detailed in my previous post, the UN High Level Panel was commissioned to examine what should replace the Millennium Development Goals when they expire in 2015. It is chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, the President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and the Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Having met in London, Liberia, and now Indonesia , the group will pass their recommendations to UN Secretary General Ban ki-Moon at the end of May 2013.

I have been involved in the consultation process since the first meeting in London where I represented Plan UK (you can read more here). The Indonesia summit was the final time the panel would all come together before taking back their decisions to their national governments. For us, this was the final time (in the foreseeable future), that we had the opportunity to influence their decisions. However, in our minds there is no finality to youth engagement in the process.

During the technical sessions, we discussed the thematic areas of ‘Global Partnerships’ and ‘Means of Implementation’. We offered our understanding of the global partnerships required to ensure the new framework is successful and incorporates the responsibility of everyone. We asked the UN High Level Panel to ensure disaggregation of data, especially in terms of age and gender. Finally, we agreed that young people must continue to be at the centre of the post 2015 process and this was not the end of the road.

Following the meeting, I met with the Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening.  I was really excited about this, as I attended a side event hosted by Restless Development where she had voiced her belief and commitment to the inclusion of young people in decision making, especially in development. I was also really impressed with her commitment to girls’ education and ending violence against women and girls. These are things I am particularly passionate about and, as highlighted through the youth consultations, are essential parts of the post-2015 framework. During our meeting, I asked the Secretary of State how she was going to continue championing youth engagement in the process and she suggested that we meet back in the UK and share ideas about how to make this happen.

You can read more about my time in Indonesia in my guest blog for Plan UK .

 

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What Katie Said

Waxing Lyrical…

It still amazes me how obsessed modern day feminism is with pubic hair removal. You think you’ve read it all and then once again, an over-excited blogger springs out of nowhere denouncing all women who enjoy a monthly wax.

This is not a critique of feminism. I identify as a feminist myself. I am just bored of the hypocrisy of being told what I should and should not do to my own body.

It was claimed in a recent blog post that body hair is a feminist’s “war-paint”. Wrong. Knowledge, choice and an open mind are a feminist’s weapons for battle. Hairy armpits do not increase my sense of empowerment. Quite frankly, I find the obsession with women removing their body hair disempowering. I feel I am repeatedly being chastised and being told that although I think I am making my own choices; I am not – I do not know myself and every time I wax my legs I am succumbing to men’s ideals and desires.

We are constantly asking world leaders to stop making decisions which are controlling women’s reproductive rights. Pro-choice campaigns have gone viral, asking the government to get out of our uterus’ and too right they should. Reproduction affects lives. Waxing does not.

So feminists – please get out of my pants?

I recently read a piece in the Independent reporting that a physician was launching an appeal to end the “war on pubic war”. She asserts that young women are putting themselves at greater risk of infection and STI’s by removing their pubic hair. Of course, I am not arguing she’s wrong; she’s totally right – the hair is there for a reason. My point is – are we not being told on a daily basis about the different risks we are all exposing ourselves to by eating, drinking and acting in certain ways? It’s 2012 and according to ‘research’ everything gives us cancer.

The use of pubic hair as front line for the fight for equality is futile; it doesn’t matter whether you choose to love, respect and worship your hairy armpits or not – the point is, you should have the choice and in equal respect, I should have the choice to wax without feeling I am letting down woman-kind.

The world is a mess. We have bigger issues to tackle than what is going on inside your or my knickers: women and girls across the world are still being denied an education, pushed into early and forced marriage, subjected to violence in the home, school and workplace, raped as a weapon of war, forced into female genital mutilation …the list goes on.

So if you don’t mind me – I am going to focus my time, attention and strength on helping these girls and women and fighting the issues that threaten their lives on a daily basis and continue to wax my vagina.

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