New Zine! Staying with feelings

A topic I’ve written about on here quite a lot is the idea of ‘staying with’ feelings. After the Pixar movie Inside Out I wrote all about how important it is to get in touch with all our emotions. I’ve also written about the value of noticing how we feel with kindness and curiosity, and about how to stay with other people’s feelings.

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In this new zine I discuss both why we get so shut off from our feelings in a wider culture which values some emotions far more highly than others, and how we can go about shifting our patterns of avoiding and fighting some feelings, and craving and grasping for others. It covers both therapeutic and spiritual practices for staying with our emotions.

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You can download or read the zine here.

 

Becoming a woman

This post is also published over on Society Matters, along with another important post: Does feminism still have something to offer.

March 8th marks International Women’s Day with the theme ‘Connecting Girls, Inspiring Futures’. I would like to take the opportunity here to celebrate my own favourite feminist, Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986). I will look back to the past to see if what she had to say about gender still holds today, and what her theories might mean for the kinds of futures that we want to inspire – for girls and for everyone.

One is not born, but rather one becomes, a woman.

Perhaps the most famous quote from de Beauvoir’s writing on gender, The Second Sex, is this one. Here she is arguing, from autobiographical experience and from the available evidence at the time, that the things associated with womenhood (such as being passive, concerned with appearance, childlike and in need of protection, and wanting to care for others) are imposed upon women by society rather than being innate characteristics they are born with.

Current understandings of gender view it – like so much of human behaviour – as a complex biopsychosocial interweaving rather than something that can be simplistically put down to ‘nature’ or ‘nurture’. Gender theory alerts us to the diversity of possible gendered identities and roles available, whilst emphasising the limited patterns of masculinity and femininity which we are pushed to repeat and repeat until they feel ‘natural’. Biological findings on neuroplasticity reveal that the likely underlying brain processes are neural pathways which are strengthened by such repetitions. So we could say that gendered identity is a process of narrowing down from the possibilities which are available at birth.

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Diversity in modelling

Interesting Guardian article today about models challenging normative ideals of attractiveness:  older, feminist, androgynous, black, plus sized. One way of expanding our notions of what constitutes beauty, but also reminds us of just how limited they currently are – given that these models (who better reflect the range of human bodies) are considered to be so remarkable.