Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Failing the feminism test?

Now, I consider myself a feminist inasmuch as I believe that men and women deserve equal rights, respect and legal protection (not to mention paypackets for doing the same job).

But I still want to look good from time to time. One day, I'd like to lose a few pounds, get a hairstyle that actually works and learn to dress to suit my shape. Being an ugly duck teenager didn't really do me any favours. I'd quite like to be a swan now, please.

But am I undermining my feminist values in the pursuit of a more conventionally attractive me?

Well, browsing through the daily papers this morning, I came across this....

'You can be beautiful and still be a feminist'

Here's an extract:

Jill Berry, president of the Girls' School Association, which represents nearly 200 independent schools, told its annual conference in Harrogate: "Girls can be highly intelligent and interested in being seen to be attractive – the two aren't mutually exclusive. Caring about physical appearance and fashion and wanting to feel good about how you look doesn't have to be a betrayal of some feminist ideal. I love new shoes but it doesn't make me shallow. Girls can have fun and be taken seriously at the same time."

My first response was, "Well, duh!". But this does highlight an important issue for me. In my experience, female friends will espouse exactly the same views that I feel define me as a feminist, but preface them with 'I'm not a feminist but...', as if being a feminist is THE most unattractive trait possible in a woman. How can we challenge that myth of hairy, unwashed, (manly?) feminism without being accused of selling-out? (I realise there are many male feminists too, and that they're probably perfectly happy to be manly...this is really about the female face of feminism).

I am not solely defined by my looks, nor should anyone be. But I do have a body of which I am not entirely ashamed. A body I would like to improve, for fitness as well as appearance. The way I physically appear is one way I present myself to the world and, feminist or not, I want that world to view me favourably. This is partly from insecurity, no doubt, and the desire to 'measure up' to societal norms.

But there can be a more positive side to this - about owning my physical presence as much as my spiritual and intellectual presence. About being comfortable in my own skin and honouring what God's given me by looking after it.

This shouldn't be an excuse for self-obsessive preening, for damaging and unachievable goal-setting, for judging people solely on appearance. And no one should EVER be made to feel that they are not good enough because of the way they look. Thin should not be king. Self respect, confidence and an ease with who and what you are is the goal.

Ummm.... did I just fail my GCSE in feminism?


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Modern parables for a church tucked up in bed

I love elvis from KORE uk on Vimeo.

As a youth worker, I'm always looking for something a bit different - cool resources that might connect with our youth group on certain issues, inspiring them or encouraging them to think more deeply about something. So, I was chuffed to bits when I received the Kore press release last week.

This is what the Kore crew say about themselves:

In 2006, KORE was founded with a passion for the core of the gospel and the core of who Jesus calls us to be. The vision is to explore the heart and roots of our faith and to discover what the Kingdom of God looks like in our world.

KORE is a place for fresh ideas, new ways to engage and opportunities to join the discussion. Our website provides you with resources to download and use, inviting you to be challenged and inspired. We provide consultation to provoke thought and discussion, helping others to form and develop their own ideas.

KORE is an ever-growing community of people whose conversation and collaborative creativity shape and form what you see here. At our heart you will find a desire to engage with the world around us and a confession to not having all the answers. The journey of KORE is packed full of partnerships with others, both inside and outside the church.

I especially love their video content, which comes from a range of different filmakers around the world. Take some time to check out their Flicks section.

I Love Elvis is produced by the Kore team and can be found in the Shibboleth section - modern parables for a church tucked up in bed.

I'm also excited about what might come out of their new Voices concept. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Monday, November 02, 2009

My kinda atheist

Thank you, thank you, thank you to Michael Ruse, professor of philosophy and zoology at Florida State University, for his excellent piece on new atheism on Comment is Free, entitled Dawkins et al bring us into disrepute.

Here's a little taster:

"I don't have faith. I really don't. Rowan Williams does as do many of my fellow philosophers like Alvin Plantinga (a Protestant) and Ernan McMullin (a Catholic). I think they are wrong; they think I am wrong. But they are not stupid or bad or whatever. If I needed advice about everyday matters, I would turn without hesitation to these men."

I am so grateful for such an insightful piece, that challenges this ridiculous (and false) polarisation of atheist and religious world-views. Such a deliberately divisive world-view as that espoused by Dawkins et al can never be a route to better understanding and human growth.

So, more please, Professor Ruse!