Why this year’s Academy Awards ceremony was all about the ladies

It’s no secret that the Oscars is run by a bunch of old white men. The academy is formed of 6000 members, 93% which are white and 76% male, and combined they are about as interesting as waiting for a video to buffer. This is also one of the main reasons why strong parts for women are so scarce in Hollywood – just take a look at the state of this year’s best supporting actress category for proof. But last night’s awards ceremony hinted that the tides may be turning, with showbiz ladies turning up to kick butt and talk about more than just their outfits. Here’s just a few examples of why this year, it was the girls who stole the show.

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Patricia Arquette used her acceptance speech to talk about gender equality

Award winners only get a certain amount of time at the podium to talk before it gets awkward. Anything over a minute and they start playing the theme music to not so subtley usher them off the stage, so it was admirable that best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette used her moment to talk about the wage gap:

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“To every woman who gave birth, to every tax payer and citizen of this nation. We have fought for everybody else’s equal rights. It’s our time to have wage equality once and for all and equal rights for women in the United States of America.”

Which not surprisingly caused the crowd to cheer like mad and got this epic reaction from Meryl Streep (seriously, she’s everywhere).

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According to the oracle of breaking news that is Twitter, it garnered the third most-tweets-per-minute of the evening, beaten only by Lady Gaga’s The Sound of Music tribute and Birdman winning best picture.

Lady Gaga stunned viewers for all the right reasons 

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Gaga, is that you?! Looking like an absolute babe in a sparkly ball gown and without all the spectacle that usually accompany her performances, Gaga gave a stunning rendition of several The Sound of Music classics in honour of the musical’s 50th anniversary; proving what a talented and versatile artist she is. To top it off she was joined on stage by silver-screen powerhouse Julie Andrews, who thanked her for the lovely tribute. If Julie Andrews is impressed, what else is there to say?

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#Askhermore took over Twitter

Although women owned 2015’s Oscars, people were clearly tired of the misogynistic atmosphere of the Academy Awards before the actual ceremony. Both men and women of the twittersphere sported the #askhermore hashtag – created by gender equality group The Representation Project – begging reporters to quiz actresses on more than their attire. The result? This year the majority of reporters on the red carpet made an effort to ask female stars questions more comprehensive than “what are you wearing?” Allowing them to talk about the amazing work they did over the past year.

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YES!!!

What do you know? Page 3 does have its uses!

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It is fair to say that I am not a fan of Page 3. I was discussing this subject yesterday with my guy friend Dan, who despite being male is even more of a  feminist than I am. His opinion of Page 3: ‘I know it’s wrong but if I happen to pick up the Sun on a train (I would never buy it), I will look at it; It is objectification though.’

My issue with Page 3 is not really that people look at it. Male or female if you see a topless woman you’re going to at least have an awkward ‘OMG her boobs are out’ glance. My problem with Page 3 is that it’s there in the first place. However, today I had to rethink my stance, as the Sun actually used it to do some good by joining up with breast cancer charity CoppaFeel.

If you haven’t heard of CoppaFeel, it is a small charity which started in 2009 to help spread awareness of breast cancer and the importance of checking your boobs regularly for lumps. It was founded by Kristin Hallenga, who unbelievably was diagnosed with the disease at 23 years old. As I’m about to turn 23 myself, this has understandably hit home. My days are filled with nagging my live-in boyfriend to pick up his socks and worrying about the future of my career; not breast cancer. Kristin’s story has definitely put things into perspective.

Whether you love or hate it, you can’t deny that Page 3 reaches a huge audience. The Sun is the UK’s most widely read paper, and for reaching out to the charity I have a new found respect for them (they still write absolute twaddle though.)

So well done Page 3, you did something right for once!

Happy International Women’s Day!

imagesAs you’ve probably already heard on the radio, the TV and in the newspapers, today is International Women’s Day! The 100th anniversary, in fact.

This may seem surprising, since feminism is seen as a relatively new endeavour. The image that usually jumps into people’s heads when the word is mentioned is that of Second-wave feminism in the 1960s – the era of hippies, free love and the Equal Rights Amendment. But Feminism was going long before then, beginning with the fight for the vote in the early 20th century.

How can we honour amazing women from the past 100 years? By continuing the battle and helping the women of today. One way of doing this is by donating to Oxfam, which not only helps women in poorer countries receive an education, but recently started the Mother Appeal in collaboration with UK Aid. For every pound you give the Government will match it, doubling your donation and changing the lives of families in third world countries. Another option is to sign the No More Page Three Campaign, which aims to change the misogynistic portrayal of women in the media. And of course, don’t forget to vote! It doesn’t matter if you think politics in England is a joke (I know I do). By voting you’re contributing to the way the country is run, and commemorating the enormous effort it took to get it in the first place.

Boobs aren’t news!

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‘Boobs aren’t news’ is the catchy slogan for No More Page Three, a campaign to stop the Sun from publishing the infamous daily feature. If you think it’s bizarre that we live in a country that is obsessed with political correctness but is happy to put softcore pornography in a wide reaching national newspaper, then please sign this petition.

In the wider scheme of things this may seem like a small issue, when girls in other countries are missing out on an education or dying from childbirth related complications. But every little helps when it comes to achieving equality, and by removing an outdated and sexist supplement we are making England a fairer place for future generations, with a better representation of women in the media.

So please sign! It will only take a few seconds of your time to make a difference.

https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/david-dinsmore-take-the-bare-boobs-out-of-the-sun-nomorepage3

Women wear the trousers

As a woman in the 21st century, whether you wear a skirt or trousers can be dependent on many things. It could be the occasion, or the weather, but I bet one thing you aren’t considering while rummaging through your wardrobe is the politics of your fashion choices.

In France it is technically illegal for women to wear trousers. A 200 year old police ruling has never been repealed, meaning that Mademoiselles should only wear trousers with special authorisation. These days it’s highly unlikely the police will hand cuff you for wearing skinny jeans, (at least in the Western Hemisphere) but old laws like this one show us how fashion has changed for women over the last century.

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Marlene Dietrich in 1930s Morocco

In the West during the first half of the 20th century a woman wearing trousers meant one of three things: She was either a part of the war movement, working in a factory or in the fields where skirts were impracticable. She enjoyed gardening, or liked to wear them for comfort during other ladylike household tasks. Or, she was strong willed and ‘difficult’. A woman wearing trousers in public was the equivalent of a cross dresser, and was considered socially unacceptable until the 1970s. Trousers were strictly for men, women were expected to wear dresses and skirts.

When legendary German actress Marlene Dietrich wore a suit in public in 1933 it caused an uproar. In her personal life Dietrich was unconventional in many ways and enjoyed challenging gender roles, whether she was boxing for fun or embracing the newfound gay and drag scene of the 1920s. Of course all of this was kept out of the public eye, but her alternative lifestyle was reflected in her fashion choices.

Although an actress who sustained her popularity through reinvention, Dietrich’s signature touch was to bring masculine undertones to her outfits. On and off screen she often wore full men’s attire. Films such as Morocco, where Dietrich played a cabaret singer who performs in a man’s dinner suit, showed that an androgynous look could be sexy. It helped to solidify her image as a femme fatale and an early Fashionista.

Today she is remembered in the fashion world via the Marlene trousers. High waisted with a flagging cut that tapers in at the ankles, the trousers are both stylish and practical and is usually paired with a shirt and blazer.

A modern day fashionista sporting a pair of Marlene trousers

A modern day fashionista sporting a pair of Marlene trousers

The spirited and independent Katharine Hepburn was another pioneer of trousers for women. Like Dietrich she was considered an unconventional dresser in the 30s and 40s and her fashion sense is still widely admired in the 21st century.

In 2012 the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts honoured her innovative approach to fashion with an exhibition entitled Dressed for Stage and Screen. The exhibition included everything from the actress’s false eyelashes and make up trays, to her sensible shoes.

The secret to Hepburn’s effortlessly glamorous style are the same foundations required in men’s tailoring, good fabric and good construction. Hepburn is quoted as saying: “Anytime I hear a man say he prefers a woman in a skirt, I say, ‘Try one. Try a skirt.”  She loved to be comfortable but she also wanted to be fashionable, everything she owned was couture.

Although a feminist icon who is now respected for her strong personality, Hepburn was resented in her own time. Alongside Dietrich, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, her individuality made her ‘box office poison’ as she fought against the public image the studio heads tried to craft for her.

Despite the efforts of these Hollywood leading ladies the 1950s saw a resurgence of ladylike styles. Post war fashion embraced Haute Couture after the penny pinching of the war years. Christian Dior unveiled his famous ‘New Look’ silhouette. With a fitted waist, a long sweeping skirt and soft feminine shoulders, Dior’s latest creation emphasized the female form.

It was also time to say goodbye to designers such as Italy’s Elsa Schiaparelli, who incorporated typically male dominated materials and styles into her clothing and had styled Katherine Hepburn. She found it difficult to adapt to the feminine styles of the Post War scene, and her business closed in 1954.

As well as changes to the economic climate Post War culture also included many social changes, the most significant perhaps being the rise of the teenager. Many young people who would have become independent wage earners were now staying at home for longer, forming a new stage of life development. Previously young people had dressed in the same styles as their parents, but after World War Two the American fashion industry began to target teenagers as a separate market segment. The birth of the ‘Greasers’ in America and the ‘Teddy Boys’ in the UK symbolised a bold new generation of men’s style. However, there wasn’t an edgy equivalent for the girls, who wore the typical ‘co-ed’ uniform of a short sleeve sweater and a pencil skirt, until the arrival of the Beat generation.

A group of artists, poets, and intellectuals against the conservative ideals of the day, female Beatniks kept their hair natural, did not use make up, and wore all black attire. Audrey Hepburn in the 1950s classic Funny Face represents the Beatnik stereotype: a quirky woman with strong opinions who is slightly out of touch with the real world, and this type of woman liked to wear trousers.

The 1960s was the era of worldwide revolution, and this included changes in women’s rights. This liberation of women was reflected in fashion, and when British designer Mary Quant introduced the mini skirt in 1964 the fashion world was changed forever.

Even though it wasn’t until the 1970s that women in trousers became common place, the counter culture of the Sixties set the precedent. Beginning at the start of the decade with the drainpipes worn by rockers, and finishing the era with hippy bell bottoms, throughout the decade both men and women who wanted to make a statement wore trousers.

The unisex hippy look continued throughout the early seventies and gave way to more androgynous trends. Thanks to Glam Rock stars like David Bowie and Marc Bolan, men and women’s fashion began to blend. Men started to embrace typically female styles and accessories. Glitter was everywhere and make up for both sexes was sparkly and over the top. The invention of platforms meant that even the shoes were agamous, with both sexes wearing heels that were at least four inches high.

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This man needs no caption!

What is most important about the clothing trends of the 70s is that women in trousers became mainstream, and it is no coincidence that it overlapped with further progression of women’s rights. Most efforts of the feminist movement, especially those aimed at social equality were successful, and Margaret Thatcher became the first British Prime Minister.

Despite this, in the 1980s it was still considered a ‘faux pas’ for women to wear trousers to work, and even in the 21st century some schools still ban girls from wearing trousers as part of their uniform.

So next time you put on that fabulous pair of palazzo pants, the ones that are super slimming and fill you with self-confidence, remember that once upon a time you might not have been so lucky.

WOMEN ARE FUNNY!

That many people believe ‘women aren’t funny’ was brought to my attention at a time when I’m probably at my most open minded- on a typical drunken night out. However, I still can’t get my head around the idea that people seriously believe women can’t keep up with men when it comes to having a sense of humour. The thing that shocked me most was that the person who told me this was female!

The girl in question is Danielle, my friend of 20 years “I don’t know what to think about this,” she admitted. “I don’t like women comedians, but you crack me up.”

Although very flattered that somebody finds me funny (not sure whether she’s laughing with or at me) I still don’t agree with the sentiment.

I can see where this opinion comes from. There are far more successful male comedians in the public eye than there are female. Even though I love comedy shows such as music quiz Never Mind the Buzzcocks and Have I got News for You there is certainly a sexual bias on the panels. The number of male comedians chosen massively outweighs the appearance of females, the exception being QI, which has more of a balance. If female comedians aren’t being as well represented as their male counterparts, how are they ever meant to express themselves humorously?

My boyfriend Nev also believes that men make better comedians (which is why he’s fortunate he’s still my boyfriend). “They only appeal to women and talk about things that men have no understanding of” is his view.

This is where I point out amazing funny ladies such as Ellen Degenres and my idol Zoey Deschanel. Ellen’s ‘clumbsy thumbsy’ is definitely the funniest technology related segment on television, and New Girl is equally popular with both men and women.

Still don’t believe me that girls are funny?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LEu9rusTfn4

Feminism needs a make over

I have a lovely ginger friend called Lizzie who likes to create feminist art. She spent the three years of art college taking pictures of her naked form and making amazing pro-women videos. One day her lecturer suggested she take her work one step further, and in the spirit of experimentation, she decided to stop shaving her legs, arm pits, the whole shebang. She lasted all of three weeks before she gave in, claiming she didn’t like way it looked or felt and went back to silky smooth skin.

The Chewbacca look may not have been Lizzie’s thing, but what I want to know is why is abandoning the razor seen as a feminist thing to do in the first place?

The image of feminism has changed over the years, from the 60s hippy to the 90’s riot grrllll, but sadly one stereotype has never really changed over time. There is this perception of feminists as butch, ball-busting man haters, which is not at all reflective of the true nature of women’s rights.

You may think that if you shave your legs, wear make-up, and appreciate a well cut shift dress then you’re automatically kept out of the girls’ club, but before you give feminism the cold shoulder you should ask yourself a few questions.

Do you want equal pay? Yes. Do you want to be judged by your skills and not your gender? Yes. If you attend university, do you think it’s unfair that women in other countries aren’t getting the same quality education as you? Yes. Well then, you’re a feminist!

It doesn’t matter how you dress, Feminism is about choice. So I’m going to stick to wearing flowery dresses and spending the majority of my time going ‘awhhhhhh’ at cat videos on the internet, and if you don’t like it? I’m really not bothered.