FREE SPEECH (AND THE CONVERSATIONS WE WON''T HAVE)

It made headlines in several newspapers and websites – actress Kristen Bell has denounced Disney's 'Snow White' because it teaches children bad lessons regarding sexual consent “Don't you think it's weird that the prince kisses Snow White without permission?” Bell says she asks her daughters of the classic Disney tale.

It made headlines in several newspapers and websites – actress Kristen Bell has denounced Disney's 'Snow White' because it teaches children bad lessons regarding sexual consent “Don't you think it's weird that the prince kisses Snow White without permission?” Bell says she asks her daughters of the classic Disney tale.

This comes after actress Keira Knightly has said she won't allow her children to watch certain Disney films because of the bad message it sends to children. Knightly said that 1950's Cinderella "waits around for a rich guy to rescue her. Don't! Rescue yourself."

Whilst it appears (after scanning social media comments) these stories/views have not necessarily been met with much popularity, they are not the only news items that seem to be bringing out a fresh wave of scepticism in people. Just today, ITV reported that Kleenex tissues are having to rebrand and rename their “Mansize” tissues following a spate of complaints from women who say the item label is sexist – with some even stating they refused to buy the product because of the message it sends to their sons and daughters.

Whilst there is – obviously - a definite need in society for continuing equality between the sexes, and fair treatment to women, it appears that social media and the media at large are unwilling to tackle certain issues – and to moderate with extremity the voices that do wish to raise genuine concerns regarding equality, sexism and the treatment of women in 2018.

It seems to defy logic that many women, some even self-proclaimed feminists (and media journalists) have a very significant public voice yet seem to fall silent on some very pressing issues that are effecting women the world over, ranging from forced child marriage, FGM (female genital mutilation), the treatment of women on religious grounds (including but not exclusive to Sharia law), and victims of rape gangs. These are subjects that are not easy to articulate through the public forum, or to bring forward into mainstream press, but why is that so?

Just recently, it was reported that women were being jailed in Iran for refusing to wear the compulsory hijab. The article in the Weekly Standard said that women were being refused medical care, and being imprisoned - and there is a huge struggle for women's freedom there.

Coming fresh alongside reports that girls, even in the UK, are being forced to undergo FGM, one can only wonder why these salient issues are being so utterly neglected. Why are certain topics “safe” to raise awareness about, yet others are often ignored or disregarded?

In part, the media and politicians have failed women who are truly victims of crime and inequality. When they do not report these things as problems because they want to remain sensitive to other cultures or religions, or when they choose to report on another story about our Western world's new idea of “feminism,” they are letting the true horrors that happen to women go silently by. Where is the condemnation?

There are places in the world where women are imprisoned for not wearing something particular, where underage children are being “married” to men twice their age. Some of these things are even beginning to happen in US and UK. When those who do raise their voices to these kinds of issues – and they are few who do – they are often met with derision and sometimes accusations of racism. How can that be so? For to investigate, report and begin tackling these issues will literally save thousands upon thousands of women who are enslaved by culture, by religion, by expectation. These stories need to be seen, discussed, analysed, spoken about. They will be the beginning of the shackles of true inequality being undone.

Is that what really matters, truly? Ultimately, we can read story upon story about feminist movements, about children's movies and product brands. Yet if we are only allowed to talk about these “safe” and “sanitised” problems, what good does it do us?

What good does it do anybody?

There needs to be an end to the horrors of what some women experience – if people don't use their power of free speech for this (whilst we still have it) then many cannot call themselves humanitarians, or claim they are behind “power for women.” These will be empty words falling on deaf ears. Who is brave enough to make a stand?

By Fiona Dodwell 

 

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