Tagged: sexism

Thanks to Barraco Barner there are at least 7.000 self-proclaimed linguists in the world

Today every media in the world is talking about Gemma Worrall, the British woman who spelled Obama’s name wrong in a tweet: “if barraco barner is our president why is he getting involved with Russia, scary”. Her tweet got retweeted at least 7.000 times where people mostly treated her as stupid, dumb, ignorant, a shame for the United Kingdom for not having notions of politics, etc. Although the theme here could be: “who cares?”, it is worthy looking at the reasons why so many people have fun shaming her.

You might not be that clever even if you know how to spell Obama’s name

Well, I know loads of people who know how to spell Obama’s name but would never ask themselves what is happening in Russia, simply because 1) they are stuck with a very vague idea of what the cold war could have been: scary ; 2) Russia is too far and you don’t fly through to go to Phuket=no need for it; 3) and where is Russia anyways. At least Gemma Worrall shows some interest in world’s politics even if expressed in a totally non mainstream manner. Does somebody deserve to be despised because of lack of education/verbal articulation/categorization? No. Why does every paper highlight that she is a “beautician”, like being a beautician was an explanation to the whole story (woman=beautician=no brain)? Because female-dominated professions are always frowned upon.

Did you guys go to graduate school to learn how to humiliate others? Wasted money, you could have gone to work! Class-based discrimination is a shameful attitude, even worst when it goes together with other forms of oppressions (like sexism). So you Gemma-blamers might be really sexist (not a little).

Ever heard of cyberbullying?

All of a sudden the world is filled with linguists and political scientists who crazily tweet about Gemma Worrall for the sole sake of blaming her. 7.000 intimidating Twitter posts plus several newspaper articles from South Africa, Australia, Belgium and more reported the story. According to the Oxford Dictionary, cyberbullying is “the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature”. Dear Wikipedia says: “cyberbullying is the use of Information Technology to harm or harass other people in a deliberate, repeated, and hostile manner”. In many of her responses Gemma seemed to be really shocked of the amplitude of the situation even though she tried to minimize this disproportioned media coverage. Ever thought that you are bullying a young woman impeding her to use the social media?

Message for Gemma’s angry commentators: we don’t need your harassing normative spelling culture, oh no!



Solidarity requires that one enter into the situation of those with whom one is solidary; it is a radical posture.

(P. Freire)

We propose feminist education sessions addressing all public. Through active learning or conferencing, we discuss feminist issues and perspectives in order to spread feminism in society and not to limit it to activist and intellectual milieux. Youth, elderly, urbanized, rural, anybody can develop an interest in feminist themes, such as parenthood rights in Europe, the history of feminism, gender studies’ theories, sexism in the media and youth. We believe in people’s curiosity, and that’s how we share commitment!

Feminism has a bad reputation. Usually, when people suspect that you might even be thinking of being a feminist, they become really anxious. Many immediately look for shelter and defense: “I am not a sexist!”. Others laugh at feminism as it was a disease, namely a mental disease, or at least something totally outdated (“Women work, we do not need feminism any longer!”). Others label themselves feminists but totally lack a political discourse and end up serving the established social order.

Feminism is a political and philosophical movement that has contributed to good social developments. We already achieved a lot! It is a history made of extraordinary people (not only women!), of struggles, of political choices and negotiations. It is not something scary. It is a set of ideas that has contributed to improve the life of many of us. It is something that continuously move towards better inclusion, and attempts to be conscious of its own limitations.

Feminism is good to think with, and is a great perspective from which to look at education, law, sexuality, politics and culture. Basically, everything. And most of all, it is not dangerous. It is adventurous.

Facebook, just one more business against women

Yesterday, The Guardian published Facebook’s big misogyny problem by Soraya Chemaly. Journalist points at the explicit and upfront misogyny populating the social network. According to her, hate speech and violence against women find a comfortable space on Facebook, where thousands of ads point at all sorts of sexist violence and rape.

I have not been confronted with those ads so far, but since some weeks I am getting very irritated about other ads that I find totally offensive and misrepresenting the female body. My Facebook’s main page is just full of commercials promoting weight loss products. Most of them portray the same woman twice… with 20 kilos difference! Sometimes, I have even seen 40 kilos! The advantage of those programs is that you can loose 4 kilos per week! Now, such a drastic weight loss is not only useless, it is dangerous, as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics explains.

With all the focus on weight in our society, it isn’t surprising that millions of people fall prey to fad diets and bogus weight-loss products. Conflicting claims, testimonials and hype by so-called “experts” can confuse even the most informed consumers. The bottom line is simple: If a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

There are no foods or pills that magically burn fat. No super foods will alter your genetic code. No products will miraculously melt fat while you watch TV or sleep. Some ingredients in supplements and herbal products can be dangerous and even deadly for some people.

Besides the lies underlying these commercials, these images of women are really offensive and awful. They all imply the idea that an overweight woman is sick, ugly and doesn’t correspond to the dominant canons of aesthetics. Basically, the message is: “Loose weight otherwise nobody will look at you, nobody will want you”. Now, fine that we live in societies promoting certain representations of how a healthy body should be (ideas that themselves develop historically), but this does not mean that the female body has to be vilified to such an extent. The same is true for any overweight body, beyond the gender dimension: overweight people have more difficult access to the job market. Therefore, this propaganda should end. Every day I report those ads as offensive, and I encourage other Facebook users to watch the humiliating messages and hate speeches appearing on Facebook.

When (via Facebook) I wrote to my friend Jérôme – who from LA pointed the article to me in the first place – that I wasn’t able to see ads of the type discussed in The Guardian article, he replied:

Well, right now, I’ve got an ad showing a girl in a bikini on the beach with the caption “this girl wants?… On your tv. Like this page and help her get all over your… tv.” I get stuff like this all the time. I don’t know that the problem is with FB or with the American sophomoric and sexist marketing industry. The bigger question is whether we, as users on this site and actually as the product that FB sells to advertisers, want to continue using a service that also makes it possible to “joke” about rape and domestic violence.

Probably this is the real question. Shall we keep using Facebook and try to make it a better place or shall we boycott it?

I think nothing very good can come out of this social network, also considering that Mark Zuckerberg yesterday said that it is ok to ignore your guests in order to check Facebook. If I ignore my guests in order to read messages inciting rape, then it doesn’t matter how boring the conversation is: I am just wrong.

Female athletes and gender stereotypes

This morning, I am reading the Italian newspaper Il Corriere della Sera. As usual, I scroll the online version down to the bottom of the page. Today, Il Corriere dedicates the first article to Berlusconi’s attacks to his ex-wife Veronica Lario whom he accuses of being supported by feminist (and communist) judges, i.e. the two species il Cavaliere probably hates the most. On the right column, the regular section “female flesh & motors”. Used to the decades-long TV education of the Berlusconi era, most Italians have by now come to terms with the fact that the female body is vilified in most media and therefore in society. The documentary “Women’s bodies” by Lorella Zanardo has already pointed at the ways in which women are presented in the Italian media: a mainstream that does not reflect the reality of our bodies and values and promotes the erasure of female identities. Lorella Zanardo’s fight against gender stereotypes is remarkable in that she is able to show that TV is not only a talking screen, but an edifying tool. In the Italian case, a noxious one. If Italy can claim a backlash in gender relations, it owes this to the private and very lucrative enterprise of Silvio Berlusconi. This affects thousands of teenagers who dream to appear (undressed) in a TV show.

CorriereThe Italian press faces a financial crisis, and editors must find new pathways to survive. This does not sound new in a time where information changes abruptly. However, again gender stereotypes are employed to sell copies and promote unreal images of women. Even more sadly, the newspaper misses an opportunity to value female talent and excellence in sports. Today, an entire photo reportage is dedicated to female tennis players. The title of the gallery is “Female tennis players at the top: male biceps“. In the photographs, women are presented in poses of muscular tension where they perform strength and, apparently masculinity. Interesting enough, the reportage just next to it is titled “sexy” and shows a woman flirtating from a swimming pool. That femininity equals being undressed, thin, tall and white (even though a note of exotism is welcome) is not new to Italian readers and commentators. Yet, the newspaper today shows that certain women are actually men, because they have muscles. And we all should know that only men have muscles!

We learn that the female body if it does not correspond to Berlusconi’s canons of beauty becomes male. However, the women pictured here do not look like men either; their muscular effort distorts their faces and bodies and gives them a monstrous semblance. These women are savage, that is why Il Corriere is interested in them today. This view is not only sexist, but also racist because of the image it conveys of black bodies: the fantasies about black strength are representations inheriting from colonialism and slavery. These women are athletes, professionals who deserve to be rewarded not only with medals but also by the public opinion. Instead of publishing these bodies as barbarous because muscular, the press should highlight their talent. Strength is not a male thing, and strong women remain women.


In biology books for children, the lesson on muscles is always represented as male. Muscular bodies are always male. Instead, women are reproductive machines. This is wrong, and we should teach our children that a muscular body is just right, be it male, female or queer. Also, we should not miss opportunities to show that some women have done outstanding things in society. We should claim the right to be women with (or without) muscles. We should educate our bodies against gender stereotypes and promote female talent.