In the face of the controversy caused by Little Mix’s revolutionary album, entitled “LM5”, I thought I should write about it.

The album itself, and it’s responses, respectively, has disconcerted the core values and ideas, I have, of my womanhood. I am a 16 year old girl, who already (like many others) has been at the wrath of hyper-masculinity, sexual objectification and gender roles.

I have continually been strongly fighting against the decorum of what is expected of women, traditionally. I see the future as both men and women, rather than either one of them. And I see the idea of a personality – the many individual aspects of a person – overcoming this idea of gender confinement. I am not my gender: I am me.

Let me elaborate on that. Many (wrongly) attach what females should be entitled to because of their gender. I think, personally, it is the wrong way to empower ourselves. Not to say that I’m not proud of being a woman: I feel such unison and passion knowing I am one, knowing I am part of a world-wide, female dominated movement. But – I don’t want to get a job because of my gender. I don’t want to be respected because of my gender. I don’t want to be treated as an equal because of my gender. You should want all of those things because your characteristics deserve them. That being said, it’s absolutely crucial – for a period of time – that women do indeed receive those things because of their gender… in order to overcome the systematic oppression of women. What most do not understand, however, is that for a woman to even reach the stage I am talking about, we must override the boundaries set for us since birth and reach the power men (collectively) have. And that means saying we are entitled to everything a male is – since he receives everything because of his gender (and most definitely).

Some of the responses that have really made me question my beliefs, come from the infamous (and chauvinistic) Piers Morgan. Most of us have probably seen them. And most of us have probably wanted to scream at him. He believes Little Mix have got it all wrong.

If you haven’t already seen it, Little Mix released this photo. To briefly explain to you the meaning, the women have stripped themselves of make-up, clothing – daily things. And despite that, the comments (mostly misogynistic) have stayed with them – showing how these words confine them daily. And by publicly advertising this, it shows they both want to bring awareness to sexism and bullying, and “strip” it away.

Piers Morgan, however, believes they are using this as ploy to sell albums via their sexuality. And that rather, they should be doing this with their talent.

Part of me was conflicted by this. At first, I was like yeah, actually that is true. Women have been confined because of their sexuality for so long, by men, and now you want to sell an album because of it? Talk about taking 2 steps back. We shouldn’t be defined by our sexuality whatsoever. We should be defined, as I aforementioned, by who we are as individuals.

But I made sure I challenged this trail of thought, to make sure it was both valid and intelligent. I came to this conclusion. I was wrong. Piers Morgan had one fatal flaw in his argument:

If Little Mix were using their sexuality to sell albums, it is GENIUS. What is more empowering than using the very thing that others have oppressed you for, for centuries? It’s almost how the LGBTQ+ society, took the word “queer” – that was used to oppressed them – for themselves and owned it.

There is something quite empowering about “re-owning” what oppressed you – its a part of your ancestry, the struggle your ancestors endured. And now YOU use it, YOU have the power – the very they used against you. God, if I’m a bitch for speaking my mind. If I’m a slut for wearing what I want. Call me a bitch and slut some more! What a compliment, quite frankly.

We should OWN OUR SEXUALITY. Women can be BOTH TALENTED AND SEXUAL, and still be who we are; in fact, that very choice, to whom ever makes it, is core to their character.

If a woman chooses to sexualise herself, that is her choice – and no man, or woman, will or can take take that away from her.

Your body, your choice. My body, my choice. Our bodies, our choice.

Woman Like Me

I think there is beauty everywhere,

In every line and crevice of the human face,

Crooked and straight.

Ultraviolets and golds

At the base

Of yours and mine’s stories to be told,

That we decorate,

With the souls of strangers laced

Into our heart rate,

Where they all live forever as bold,

as of the infinitive universes’ grace.

Milks and honeys,

Chocolate siennas and vanilla,

Night skies painted with big taupe eyes:

It’s everywhere you see,

Just hidden away

From vanity and what we preach.

What We Preach

“Single-sex education is better than mixed education, for it prepares young people for the future,” was the question I was confronted with for my English transactional writing exam.

I decided it was a conversation that shouldn’t just be held with my examiner.

Usually ignorance doesn’t provoke much but boredom for me. Though it wasn’t always like that. For about six months my eyes rolled at least two-hundred times a day at the ill informed, shallow and moronic comments of the boys in my year.

For example, “Oh, I read in the news today the bigger a woman’s ‘arse’, the more intelligent her children will be,’ answered with, ‘Oh God, can you imagine how stupid —-‘- kids will be?”

Or even worse, being asked at 8:30 in the morning, “Shouldn’t women get paid less naturally because they’re allowed maternity leave?”

So, rather than throwing chairs and arguing, I educated. I realised people are just a little more likely to listen, if you aren’t screaming and if you are prepared to listen too. It’s a conversation, and I want to take the feminist conversation out of the classroom and into the world.

But, seriously? Is it not obvious that if you go to a single-sex school, it really does mirror and prepare you for ‘real life’: or is being segregated from men that normalised?

As a 15 year old young woman who is already struggling with society’s conventions, I am at odds with the idea of single-sex schools. But why, you’re thinking, right? I bet you’re thinking if the majority of your problems are because of young men, why are you against the idea of single-sex schools? And that was the exact ignorance I fore-mentioned. The problem is not individual men; feminism isn’t a personal attack. It is an attack on society’s patriarchal constructs that uphold beliefs of the superiority of the male sex, and as a result oppresses women; especially women of colour, but that’s a separate conversation we need to have. And you’re also probably thinking, ‘why is a 15 year old even thinking along these lines?’ Probably because of the internalised misogyny I’ve had to deal with all my life from other people: the fear of walking alone, and not understanding the instinct to repeatedly look behind me; why I was never chosen when the teachers asked for someone ‘strong’ to carry the benches out of the assembly hall and the sexual objectification I experience every day, with no exception.

I repeat, before you get carried away, I do not hate men. Men are great, as are women. But I do hate the oppressive nature of society. One that our ancestors have endured for far too long.

It’s often said that girls and boys will do better at single sex schools because of maturing at different rates, learning in different ways, distractions and the different (stereotypical) traits girls and boys have. It’s not to be said that single sex education doesn’t want equality, but that equality for men and women simply isn’t the same. Mostly because of those different traits, both physical and emotional biology. Therefore, single sex schools are best fitted for a child’s needs.

I don’t agree.

I think using stereotypes and generalisations to understand how best to teach kids, is dangerous. Stereotypes in themselves are dangerous: they become a person’s only story, and – almost always – confines them to society’s expectations. Children shouldn’t be confined. Our capability to change and learn is incredible. We should be able to flourish in the environment best for ourselves. Tress only grow best where the soil suits them. And that’s not to say a child doesn’t have the capability to learn in any environment! That’s a skill needed throughout our entire lives but being young, that’s a lesson to be learned in the right environment.

You get the jist I’m against single-sex schools. Am I for co-educational schools though?

One day, I will be in my own trading office, surrounded by men employed by me, who are listening to me. Rather than being hidden away from their sexually objectifying eyes and fragile egos. And I think that’s the environment a co-educational school creates. It shouldn’t be women or men. It should be men and women. Opportunities should be based on talent and potential, rather than gender. I certainly don’t want to be employed because I’m a woman, especially if it’s just for good statistics. I want to be employed because I have the capability of doing the job. I want that same capability to transcend gender. Gender is such a confinement, if you think about it, as is any label. Or perhaps, gender wouldn’t be a confinement if those of power, did not abuse it…

Sometimes I can’t help but think a co-educational school is just as bad anyway. Does the dream of equality fool me? Does it fool you too? Are we, boys and girls, continuously indoctrinated by what other people think is right? Those people being the older generation, whom generally speaking, don’t like change. Is that why my skirt is so annoyingly long, to not ‘distract’ boys – as I’ve been told many times before (of course it’s my fault). Does that not negatively affect boys, just as much as it affects girls? Is that why it took our feminist group a battle to get trousers for girls? Is the hard task of being a teenager, being made even harder by our need to defy our environments in order to do what’s right? It’s uncomfortable to even think about, even scarier to think that this limited environment I work in, just like single-sex schools, is mirroring my future.

It is as simple as this. Children thrive and flourish in schools that offer opportunities, success and academic support. Shown by Alan Smithers and Pamela Robinson, who work at Buckingham University: “while there are some very good girls’ schools and boys’ schools, it does not look as though they are good because they are single sex.” [independentschoolparent.com]

Perhaps you will work aside talented young women in your school years, whilst I work aside talented young men. But it doesn’t matter, because both you and I know it will not define our future.

We will be working on a trading floor, men alike too. We will be at university, sitting next to educated men too. We will be a leading political figure, with men too.

Men and women are the future. Humans are wonderful. Go kick ass.

Men AND Women: The Future.