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This Is Why We Need Feminism

This Is Why We Need Feminism

Feminism is not about hating men at all, as Emma Watson so powerfully said in her speech at the UN in support of the ‘HeForShe’ campaign. It is about a basic human right: the equality of men and women. As we all know, the reality is painfully different. This is why we need feminism.

Only about 135,000 men from all over the world have signed the pledge to help make changes happen so that women and girls no longer face discrimination. Yes, I have signed. Have you? Here is the link to the pledge. We have a long way to go!

“Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive, both men and women should feel free to be strong.” -Emma Watson

What’s wrong with our society? We are gender obsessed. From the moment we are born, we are expected (and indeed forced) into a stereotypical role in line with our sex. Blue for a boy, pink for a girl. It starts early, and even earlier for those who insist on knowing what the gender of their little baby will be.

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    Miss America gets the prize!

    Let me give you a few other examples of our sexist and anti-feminist society. Look at the Miss America beauty contest and the thousands of others around the world, based on the same old formula, since 1921. That is nearly a century! The Miss America slogan is “style, service, scholarship and success.”

    As we all know, the reality is totally different. Why would you test a person’s knowledge, sensitivity, social commitment and intelligence by asking her to walk around on a stage half-naked? Why would you ask her the most tortuous question and expect an answer in 20 seconds? Why limit the entrants to those who have never been pregnant or never have had children? The view of a woman’s role in society is still distorted and wrong.

    Can you imagine testing a man’s knowledge and management skills by asking him to strut around in his underwear?

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    Feminism is important. Here are several more examples why we need feminism:

    • Blatant sexism permeates economic, social and economic life
    • Women want to be called strong, not bitchy
    • Women should never need to apologize for their success
    • Urgent need to accept people of all genders and identities
    • Women do not need to be told how to live their life
    • We need to get rid of hypocrisy and double standards when talking about women
    • We need to erase the gender binary
    • Men who are called feminists should not be mocked
    • One day, the word feminism will become obsolete.

    Women and men in running the home

    We still have a long way to go to get rid of the idea that running a small family unit and rearing kids is for women only. If a woman chooses to work outside the home, she still is often assumed to have to do all the housework, or most of it! There are still very few stay-at-home dads.

    pornforwomen

      The solution? We could have more paternity leave and government-funded childcare. Equal pay would be excellent. It seems that these are pretty normal in Sweden, but still a long way off in the USA and Europe. Now Sweden is not on another planet, or is it?

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      The media is rife with sexist language and propaganda

      “No one can make you inferior without your permission.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

      The media should be leading the way towards a more tolerant society in which the sexes become equal. But, again, it seems like a mirage in the desert. Just look at the sexist language and stereotypes we are subjected to every day:

      • Women can only be skinny
      • The average UK woman worries about her body image every 15 minutes (because they have been bombarded with sexist and fat-shaming propaganda in advertising)
      • Darker skinned women must get a paler complexion
      • Female nudity is used to sell tabloid newspapers in the UK. No paper prints photos of male attributes (yet!)
      • Men are often portrayed as being dumb and incompetent on many sitcom shows, showing the sexism is not all one way.
      • Some men are portrayed as fat in family sitcoms, while the wife is always skinny and sexy.
      • Smart people are usually male, while females are dumb but always attractive.
      • No prizes for guessing what the majority sex is when words like paranoid, humourless, selfish, man-hating, butch, and aggressive are used in the media.

      If you want change to happen, make sure you sign up to Endangered Bodies, a global initiative to stop advertisers sending women messages which make them hate their bodies. Just another reason why we still need feminism.

      Violence against women

      The overwhelming majority of female homicides are carried out by male partners. In the UK, 54% of female murder victims were killed by their partner, ex-partner or lover. Figures from around the globe are equally harrowing. Resorting to firearms is not the answer, as this report shows.

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      Why we still need feminism

      As you can see from all the examples above, we still need feminism to ensure that the war for equal rights among the sexes is won. The battle is being fought on these fronts:

      • Eliminate the pay gap of 23% between men and women
      • End FGM (female genital mutilation), which prevents women from fully enjoying sex. It is still practised in 29 countries
      • No longer assume a women has to take the man’s surname in marriage or civil partnerships
      • Stop justifying rape on how a woman is dressed

      Once there is full equality in political, economic and social life, there will be no need for the word ‘feminism’. It will simply become obsolete. As we are nowhere near this Utopia, this is why we sill need feminism.

      Featured photo credit: I need feminism because…../Leeds College of Music via flickr.com

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      Robert Locke

      Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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      Last Updated on January 15, 2021

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      7 Ways To Have More Confident Body Language

      The popular idiomatic saying that “actions speak louder than words” has been around for centuries, but even to this day, most people struggle with at least one area of nonverbal communication. Consequently, many of us aspire to have more confident body language but don’t have the knowledge and tools necessary to change what are largely unconscious behaviors.

      Given that others’ perceptions of our competence and confidence are predominantly influenced by what we do with our faces and bodies, it’s important to develop greater self-awareness and consciously practice better posture, stance, eye contact, facial expressions, hand movements, and other aspects of body language.

      Posture

      First things first: how is your posture? Let’s start with a quick self-assessment of your body.

      • Are your shoulders slumped over or rolled back in an upright posture?
      • When you stand up, do you evenly distribute your weight or lean excessively to one side?
      • Does your natural stance place your feet relatively shoulder-width apart or are your feet and legs close together in a closed-off position?
      • When you sit, does your lower back protrude out in a slumped position or maintain a straight, spine-friendly posture in your seat?

      All of these are important considerations to make when evaluating and improving your posture and stance, which will lead to more confident body language over time. If you routinely struggle with maintaining good posture, consider buying a posture trainer/corrector, consulting a chiropractor or physical therapist, stretching daily, and strengthening both your core and back muscles.

      Facial Expressions

      Are you prone to any of the following in personal or professional settings?

      • Bruxism (tight, clenched jaw or grinding teeth)
      • Frowning and/or furrowing brows
      • Avoiding direct eye contact and/or staring at the ground

      If you answered “yes” to any of these, then let’s start by examining various ways in which you can project confident body language through your facial expressions.

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      1. Understand How Others Perceive Your Facial Expressions

      A December 2020 study by UC Berkeley and Google researchers utilized a deep neural network to analyze facial expressions in six million YouTube clips representing people from over 140 countries. The study found that, despite socio-cultural differences, people around the world tended to use about 70% of the same facial expressions in response to different emotional stimuli and situations.[1]

      The study’s researchers also published a fascinating interactive map to demonstrate how their machine learning technology assessed various facial expressions and determined subtle differences in emotional responses.

      This study highlights the social importance of facial expressions because whether or not we’re consciously aware of them—by gazing into a mirror or your screen on a video conferencing platform—how we present our faces to others can have tremendous impacts on their perceptions of us, our confidence, and our emotional states. This awareness is the essential first step towards

      2. Relax Your Face

      New research on bruxism and facial tension found the stresses and anxieties of Covid-19 lockdowns led to considerable increases in orofacial pain, jaw-clenching, and teeth grinding, particularly among women.[2]

      The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research estimates that more than 10 million Americans alone have temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ syndrome), and facial tension can lead to other complications such as insomnia, wrinkles, dry skin, and dark, puffy bags under your eyes.[3])

      To avoid these unpleasant outcomes, start practicing progressive muscle relaxation techniques and taking breaks more frequently throughout the day to moderate facial tension.[4] You should also try out some biofeedback techniques to enhance your awareness of involuntary bodily processes like facial tension and achieve more confident body language as a result.[5]

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      3. Improve Your Eye Contact

      Did you know there’s an entire subfield of kinesic communication research dedicated to eye movements and behaviors called oculesics?[6] It refers to various communication behaviors including direct eye contact, averting one’s gaze, pupil dilation/constriction, and even frequency of blinking. All of these qualities can shape how other people perceive you, which means that eye contact is yet another area of nonverbal body language that we should be more mindful of in social interactions.

      The ideal type (direct/indirect) and duration of eye contact depends on a variety of factors, such as cultural setting, differences in power/authority/age between the parties involved, and communication context. Research has shown that differences in the effects of eye contact are particularly prominent when comparing East Asian and Western European/North American cultures.[7]

      To improve your eye contact with others, strive to maintain consistent contact for at least 3 to 4 seconds at a time, consciously consider where you’re looking while listening to someone else, and practice eye contact as much as possible (as strange as this may seem in the beginning, it’s the best way to improve).

      3. Smile More

      There are many benefits to smiling and laughing, and when it comes to working on more confident body language, this is an area that should be fun, low-stakes, and relatively stress-free.

      Smiling is associated with the “happiness chemical” dopamine and the mood-stabilizing hormone, serotonin. Many empirical studies have shown that smiling generally leads to positive outcomes for the person smiling, and further research has shown that smiling can influence listeners’ perceptions of our confidence and trustworthiness as well.

      4. Hand Gestures

      Similar to facial expressions and posture, what you do with your hands while speaking or listening in a conversation can significantly influence others’ perceptions of you in positive or negative ways.

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      It’s undoubtedly challenging to consciously account for all of your nonverbal signals while simultaneously trying to stay engaged with the verbal part of the discussion, but putting in the effort to develop more bodily awareness now will make it much easier to unconsciously project more confident body language later on.

      5. Enhance Your Handshake

      In the article, “An Anthropology of the Handshake,” University of Copenhagen social anthropology professor Bjarke Oxlund assessed the future of handshaking in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic:[8]

      “Handshakes not only vary in function and meaning but do so according to social context, situation and scale. . . a public discussion should ensue on the advantages and disadvantages of holding on to the tradition of shaking hands as the conventional gesture of greeting and leave-taking in a variety of circumstances.”

      It’s too early to determine some of the ways in which Covid-19 has permanently changed our social norms and professional etiquette standards, but it’s reasonable to assume that handshaking may retain its importance in American society even after this pandemic. To practice more confident body language in the meantime, the video on the science of the perfect handshake below explains what you need to know.

      6. Complement Your Verbals With Hand Gestures

      As you know by now, confident communication involves so much more than simply smiling more or sounding like you know what you’re talking about. What you do with your hands can be particularly influential in how others perceive you, whether you’re fidgeting with an object, clenching your fists, hiding your hands in your pockets, or calmly gesturing to emphasize important points you’re discussing.

      Social psychology researchers have found that “iconic gestures”—hand movements that appear to be meaningfully related to the speaker’s verbal content—can have profound impacts on listeners’ information retention. In other words, people are more likely to engage with you and remember more of what you said when you speak with complementary hand gestures instead of just your voice.[9]

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      Further research on hand gestures has shown that even your choice of the left or right hand for gesturing can influence your ability to clearly convey information to listeners, which supports the notion that more confident body language is readily achievable through greater self-awareness and deliberate nonverbal actions.[10]

      Final Takeaways

      Developing better posture, enhancing your facial expressiveness, and practicing hand gestures can vastly improve your communication with other people. At first, it will be challenging to consciously practice nonverbal behaviors that many of us are accustomed to performing daily without thinking about them.

      If you ever feel discouraged, however, remember that there’s no downside to consistently putting in just a little more time and effort to increase your bodily awareness. With the tips and strategies above, you’ll be well on your way to embracing more confident body language and amplifying others’ perceptions of you in no time.

      More Tips on How to Develop a Confident Body Language

      Featured photo credit: Maria Lupan via unsplash.com

      Reference

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