Hot chocolate?

Consent. Something that, for some reason, many people struggle to understand and get their heads around so we are going to use a quick example to explain consent in a different context.

Think of you and someone watching TV. You ask the person if they want a hot chocolate. They say “yes, I would love one right now”. From this it is clear that they want a hot chocolate. If the same person says “I’m not sure, I’m not really feeling it”, then you can make them a hot chocolate, but it doesn’t mean they will drink it, and if they don’t, you cannot force them to drink it.

If the same person says “No thank you, I don’t want a hot chocolate” then you don’t make one, under any circumstances you don’t make a hot chocolate or try to give them a hot chocolate as they have made it clear they don’t want one.

However, the person could also say “Yes please” as in the first scenario but then once you have made it they have changed their mind, and this is okay too. It might be frustrating yes, but it does not mean that just because the person said yes, that they are not allowed to change their mind; you just have to be okay with it and not force them to have it.

A further scenario would be if the same person is unconscious, do not make them a hot chocolate as they cannot answer whether or not they want a hot chocolate. If the person was conscious and said then but then became unconscious, you do not give them the hot chocolate. If the person started drinking the hot chocolate and became unconscious whilst drinking it, you don’t carry on giving them hot chocolate, you stop.

If someone said yes to a hot chocolate last week, it doesn’t mean that they will want hot chocolate every week. Saying yes once, doesn’t mean it will always be yes. For some this may seem like a stupid analogy but hopefully it puts it into terms that people can understand and comprehend.

Consent is needed both ways, not just from one person. Consent is not exclusive to one gender, one race, one religion; consent is universal and everyone has the right to consent. In the modern age, consent is something that not many people fully understand; with a music and media culture that blurs the lines with consent, many people become confused and don’t know what is right and what is wrong.

We hope this blog post gives you a clearer view regarding consent and helps you understand what is and what isn’t acceptable.

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Who are you?

Hypersexualisation is to make something sexual in character or quality, or to become aware of sexuality; especially in relation to men and women. This concept is important to grasp in order to understand the rest of this blog post.

Wherever you look in the media, whether this be movies, magazines or shows, women are hypersexualised in majority of media outlets out there. An example of this would be the Cosmopolitan magazine, which is one of the top selling magazines amongst young women in the Western World. A study done on the readers of this magazine showed that readers were more likely to believe that women should use their appearance to attract male partners compared to less frequent readers.

Whilst many may not see the issue behind all this, it is important to realise that by teaching young women that things such as intellect, creativity and ambition are not as desirable as good looks, you begin to create a society of self-conscious women who feel that looks are all they have to offer in order to attract males. This is the wrong message to be sending to women, and more should be done to empower young women to not be sexualised by the media or be portrayed as sex objects because women are worth more than that.

It is not just women that are hypersexualised but also men, albeit to a lesser extent. All over the media, “desirable” men tend to be tall, muscular, and a particular skin tone. It is the notion of being “masculine” that is used to hypersexualise men.

Again, this sends out a message to men that women are only interested in you if you are tall, muscular and masculine, but this is not the case. Women want things in men such as ambition, generosity, intellect, creativity; perhaps not all of these apply to all women as choice is subjective; but on the whole both men and women want similar things in partners, yet we are faced with a media who want to hypersexualise individuals and create a generation and world in which looks are the decisive factor when it comes to dating or love.

This again leads to a generation of young men who feel pressured into becoming “masculine” and this is most likely a huge factor behind toxic masculinity. The idea of being masculine is not just physical, but also a mental state in which you don’t show emotions because “men” don’t do that. We recently did a blog post about toxic masculinity so check that out if you are interested in reading more about the issue.

Who are you? Are you who the media wants you to be or are you who you want to be? You are you. Our message at Break the Chains is simple: do not let the media sexualise you and do not feel pressured to look like the people you see on TV or any other media/social media outlet.

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Invisible Injustice.

Trans Day of Visibility, the 31st March, is dedicated to celebrating Transgender people and raising awareness of the discrimination faced by Transgender people worldwide, and that is exactly what we are about to do.

Between 2008 and 2014, 1,612 Trans people were murdered across 62 countries – equivalent to a killing every two days. This rate has not slowed down as in the past year there has been at least 190 murders of Trans people over the world, equivalent to more than one every two days.

The stigma around Trans people still exists massively, both in the western and eastern world. Whether this be due to religion, tradition, or just negative perceptions; it needs to be addressed that Trans people are still severely at risk of being murdered or targeted due to their change of gender.

Two in five Trans people have experienced a hate crime or incident because of their gender identity from 2015-2016. It is also important to remember that not all people within the LGBT+ community will report their incident to the police as more studies on the Stonewall website show that four in five LGBT people who have experienced a hate crime or incident did not report it to the police.

The abuse that is received by Trans people not only exists physically but also verbally. Over 10 per cent of Trans people experienced being verbally abused and six per cent were physically assaulted at work. As a consequence of harassment and bullying, a quarter of Trans people will feel obliged to change their jobs. No person should ever feel the need to change their job due to being targeted because of their gender identity, sexuality, race, religion or anything else for that matter.

People in Japan who wish to undertake a gender change are required by law to undergo sterilisation before changing their gender; this law exists in a number of other countries and also existed in Sweden until 2013. However, as previously mentioned in this post, this can be for a variety of different reasons such as religion, tradition or just negative perceptions as a whole. This does not mean that it cannot be changed; over the past few years we have seen various countries such as the US, UK and others announce same-sex marriage as legal, which is a massive achievement and victory for the rights of the LGBT+ community.

There still exists hatred and fear of the LGBT+ community within these countries, even within the UK, but the acceptance of the community is becoming more apparent and widespread than it has ever been before. If Lesbians and Gays can now be more accepted in society than previously, then Transsexuals will someday become more accepted in society than they are currently. It will be a long and hard fight for equality, but all it takes is one conversation, one interaction, one action to change the perception of one person; and one by one the ripples of change can bring about equality.

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Too afraid to be you?

Real men are emotionless. Real men are aggressive. Real men are strong. True? False. Yet this exact notion goes through the minds of hundreds of millions of men each day, more often than not – subconsciously.

Society has been created with the “stereotypical male” that each man is meant to live up to and look up to. The idea of emasculation ( a range of “feminine” interests or activities a Real Man would not do, that in turn disprove his masculinity regardless of his other actions) has created a society of men who are too afraid to be themselves. They feel pressured to be something they are not. They feel that they need to be aggressive in certain situations because that is what a “man” would do; or they feel obliged to pay for everything if they are in a relationship or on a date because that’s what “men” do.

We have genderised thoughts and feelings; toxic masculinity shows men that they are the thinkers, not the feelers and that women are the opposite; whereas the reality is we are both. Toxic masculinity defines the “norms” for men to act; even issues such as misogyny and homophobia stem from toxic masculinity as men are taught that you shouldn’t have any deep personal connections with a male, and that the “treat em mean, keep em keen” works when it comes to women.

The misogyny goes even deeper than this. All you need to do is turn on the TV and see the music industry. Time and time again women are sexually objectified by rappers, called “hoes” and “bitches” because this is what a “real man” does. In addition, the lyrics tend to speak about how much men love sex which is another by product of toxic masculinity. Many men feel pressured into wanting to show that they are eager to have sex or that they are always ready to have sex because this is the “norm”.

Truth be told, if the music industry was not misogynistic and stereotypical when it comes to males, we may have less pressure on young males to act and speak the way they do. Teenagers and young children need to be taught that it IS okay to cry; it IS okay to speak about your feelings; it IS okay to want to care for your skin and your hair; it IS okay to like romantic movies; it IS okay to not want to have sex with your girlfriend/boyfriend straight away; it IS okay to have deep personal relationships with your male friends or family members.

According to the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017, in 2015 there were 6,639 suicides in the UK and the Republic of Ireland. Male suicide rates remain consistently higher than female suicide rates across the country, roughly three times higher in the UK. Men commit suicide because they do not speak about how they feel, many are scared of being ridiculed for showing their feelings. Many keep things bottled up as they would get told to “man up”. If this does not highlight the issue of toxic masculinity nothing will.

We need more men in high positions of popularity and influence to show men that it is okay to talk about feelings and that regardless of what others think, you should not let others define you as a man or not. Everyone has subjective views on what they may consider to be a “real man”; but their views should not define you, you define you.

““Femininity is depicted as weakness, the sapping of strength, yet masculinity is so fragile that apparently even the slightest brush with the feminine destroys it.”

Is Equality a reality?

The 8th of March 2018 marked International Women’s Day where all over the world people celebrated the achievements of women and the progress that has been made towards gender equality.

However, the World Economic Forum (WEF) has recently published their research on the Gender Gap for 2017. The conclusion was that gender parity is over two hundred years away. Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist, journalist and social activist once said “The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organisation but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights.”

This highlights that we all have a part to play in supporting equality for women. No matter our gender, background, sexuality, race or political belief; if you care about human rights, you care about women’s rights. This year also marked the 100th anniversary of the Suffrage Movement in the 1900’s. The Suffrage Movement saw women earn the right to vote in the U.K and was a great initial step to kick-start the fight for equality.

Currently, globally women represent fewer than 50% of leaders in twelve industries studied by the WEF; whilst within other fields such as energy or manufacturing this drops to fewer than 20% of women in high positions. With only a 2% increase in the past decade in terms of women progressing to high position jobs in these twelve sectors it shows the sheer backwardness of many industries currently in the world.

Truth be told, women are as capable if not more, than men to fill these high position roles within companies. Within such a patriarchal society that still exists today, some industries and countries still view women as inferior and inadequate. According to the WEF, industries such as legal, finance and real estate have all increase their rate of hiring women for leadership positions and state “Increasing the proportions of women leaders – both through improved hiring rates for leadership positions, as well as building strong internal pipelines for promotion – could be the start of a virtuous circle, eventually leading to more equity of economic opportunity for women globally.”

In addition this year we have seen many women speak up about the sexual harassment that goes on in Hollywood especially. Dozens of women came out and spoke up about the derogatory treatment they received by their male counterparts in the industry. Another step towards equality would be for men to be brought to justice (i.e. lose credibility and their jobs) for treating women like sex objects to show that actions have consequences.

Some men still feel that they are entitled to speak to or feel a women in a sexual manner purely because of what is in their boxers; that is not the case and other men must not stand for this. Women and men who disagree with these unwanted approaches made upon women must speak up and be vocal against it. We need to teach children from a young age that sexual harassment and sexual assault are not okay and what to do if you have been a victim of this.

From a young age it is easy for children to become brainwashed by the TV and Music Industry so we must challenge these views and instil morals in them so that these children can grow up and bring about a society where sexual harassment is less common because women are seen as equal.

We all have a part to play in the fight for equality and together we can bring about gender equality quicker and make it a reality. We wish you all the best in the fight for women’s rights.

“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a great competition and rivalry between the two. There is a third power stronger than both, that of the women.”

“My body, my choice.”

“My body, my choice”. The choice of whether or not a woman keeps a baby is with the woman, correct? Well, this is how it should be but sadly this isn’t always the case. Trump and his cabinet (all men) signed an executive order to ban federal money going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortion.

Trump has been openly against abortion in the past and it would be no surprise if he attempted to make abortion illegal during his presidency. During his presidential campaign he said that he believed “some form of punishment” should be in place for women who have abortions, if the practice is banned.

Closer to home, we have heard of the UN Committee stating that the UK is violating the rights of women in Northern Ireland by restricting their access to abortion, exposing the women of Ireland to “horrific situations”. The committee on the elimination of discrimination against women (Cedaw) concluded that “the situation in Northern Ireland constitutes violence against women that may amount to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment”.

Denying abortion and criminalising the act in Northern Ireland is discrimination against women and it subjects them to mental distress, especially if the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Northern Ireland has the harshest criminal penalty for abortion in Europe as women can be sentenced to life imprisonment for undergoing an unlawful abortion.

In 2016 over 700 women from Northern Ireland travelled to abortion clinics in Britain to terminate pregnancies. It is astounding to believe that even in this day and age; in the Western World we are criminalising women who wish to undertake an abortion. There are many reasons why a woman may need to have one.

This could be due to: mental/physical health; the baby could be a result of rape; the woman may be unable to provide for the baby both physically and financially; but also it could be that the baby was accidental (even after using protection) and it could affect their education. Women are the ones who have to carry the baby for nine months in their womb and give birth, why should anyone else be able to state whether she is allowed to have an abortion or not?

Politicians need to wake up and realise that each case of abortion is subjective; every women should be entitled to the option of abortion. A patriarchal society has attempted for years to undermine women and their rights, but things are slowly changing and need to continue to change. A Planned Parenthood advertisement stated that “77% of anti-abortion leaders are men. 100% of them will never get pregnant.” This shows that the majority of decisions against abortion are made by men, not women.

I will finish this blog post with a thought provoking quote about abortion: “No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.”

Blood on their hands…

If we told you citizens in the U.S are more at risk of dying from the hands of a U.S native who owns a gun over a terrorist, would you believe us? This is the reality.
According to the Guardian newspaper, as of the 15th February 2018, there had been 1624 mass shootings in the US in 1870 days. There are more guns sold in the U.S (265 million) than there are currently adults living there (249.5million); this shows just how big of a problem this is for the country. Due to a biased media, and a President who stirs up hatred and resentment towards people of colour, citizens in the U.S feel safer owning a gun to protect themselves from any “threats”.
Data from the Gun Violence Archive shows that there is a mass shooting on average nine out of every ten days; partnered with the fact that the number of gun murders per capita in the US in 2012 was nearly 30 times that in the UK, shows that gun violence is a massive issue within the U.S.
The issue of whether or not the US should ban guns or not lies with the Second Amendment of the US Constitution, which protects the right of people to keep and bear arms. People see owning a gun as their legal right and believe that gun control would be violating the Second Amendment. This Amendment is defended viciously by lobby groups such as the National Rifle Association, who claim to have a membership of roughly five million members.
It now seems almost inevitable that if you turn on the TV or check your social media, there will be some news regarding a shooting in America; it has become that common to occur. This should not be the case and something needs to be done to bring about gun control. The lives of all the innocent men, women and children who die mercilessly at the hands of these gunmen should be more important to the law makers than the Second Amendment.
Legal rights of others are important, but when these legal rights allow innocent individuals to be killed by the hands of extremists, questions must be asked. The law is there to protect us and keep us safe, but this Amendment seems to do the complete opposite. Countries such as the UK and Australia have brought in gun controls after a mass shooting has taken place and we have been fine; what makes groups such as the National Rifle Association believe that US Citizens deserve to own guns?
Perhaps there needs to be an extreme vetting process with regards to guns; there were previously talks of mentally unstable individuals being unable to buy guns, but would this reduce the risk of dying by the hands of a gunman? There are so many questions regarding this touchy topic with various different answers and explanations; however one thing is for certain: the safety of the U.S citizens comes first, otherwise the President has blood on his hands.
To those people out there who say that owning guns protect their families – if you haven’t noticed, guns do the complete opposite. By any person being able to legally buy a gun in the U.S, your children, parents, friends, family are all at risk of being a victim of a mass shooting. Reform is needed, now.