Bleats

Finally, A Man Is Using Fashion To Make A Statement In Politics, And It's The Flash Of Hope Brexit Needs

Behold the Speaker of the House, the grand Wearer of Ties.

Brexit is the worst of times, it is the blurst of times. It’s a lot of politicians hooting and hollering and a lot of people waiting for answers and solutions. Much complicated, very borders, such deals.

Speaking of hooting and hollering, there’s one man who does it better than anyone, and he my friends is the UK Speaker of the House of Commons, Mr John Simon Bercow MP. He can belt out “ORDER” and calm the rowdy house with roaring vibrato – and you know what else he can do? He can rock a tie, he can work a tie, he can embody a tie. He is the Speaker and he is the Wearer of Ties.

His range of colourful geometric ties have brought some much needed fashion-relief to the disaster that is Brexit, and it is also, quite simply, really cool to see a man’s accessories being the centre of attention for once. Gone are the days of analysing the suits of female politicians, this is a new era, and it’s the era in which we wait for and appreciate Bercow’s ties.

He knew his thundering face would be plastered across screens all over the world, he felt it in his bones that it was his time to shine and ladies and gentlemen of the house, he stepped up.

He has delivered during debate after debate, with geometric patterns, metallic motifs and dashing designs and we are here for it.

Let’s take a look at some of the best ties we’ve seen during the Brexit season of 2019 so far.

On January 15, the day Parliament voted to reject Theresa May’s Brexit deal, Bercow donned his best tie yet – a rainbow number that perfectly juxtaposed the anger of his bellowing face but brilliantly captured the odd, energetic mood in the room.

Look at this floral piece:

BLOOM!

Let your eyes be behold this colourful beauty:

BOLD CHOICE

Big spots? Why not!

ROUND N ROUND

Whatever this is, yes!

SO MUCH YES!

He loves the attention, he lives for it. And you know what else is super cool? He understands that his tie-wearing lifestyle isn’t necessary for everyone and in 2017 Bercow lifted a long-standing rule which required male MPs to wear neckties in the House. What an icon.

Stop Telling Female Gamers We're Only Playing To Impress Guys

Sorry, your princess is in another castle.

I am a woman and I like games. Sometimes I like to play Pokemon and sometimes I like to dabble in a bit of MMORPG, not that you can really dabble there – you sort of have to commit, well, entire days at a time. (That’s Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game, for those playing along.)

Anyway, there’s nothing interesting or special about being a girl who finds this form of entertainment engaging, fun and even social. It’s another facet for escapism, one more way to switch off for a few hours and enter another world. In fact, I would even say it’s healthier than zoning out and streaming TV series, because it usually requires you to logically solve problems and actively use your brain.

Games have almost always been considered as a “boy” activity, mostly because of production and marketing being targeted at males. While this has changed over the years, the gaming world is still very much a male dominated one. The rise of Twitch (where gamers stream themselves playing live) has also confirmed this, with mostly males dominating the platform while females are berated for using the platform for attention, money or male approval.

I’ve personally come face-to-face with the odd, often accidental sexism that surrounds females who like gaming and gaming culture, even in cases where the subject matter is the the more female-accepted Nintendo facet.

Recently, I was talking to some people about the new Pokemon Let’s Go Evolvi game, and someone in the group called a Pokemon by the incorrect name (lol). When I corrected them, tongue in cheek, a boy in the group said: “oh, so you’re one of those girls who’s not like other girls right? You love gaming and find shopping boring?”

I’m convinced he didn’t understand the brevity of sexism in what he was saying, but that alone is also deeply concerning. It’s not just the belittling of female independent thought here that’s the problem, it’s the stigmatisation. The idea that girls engage in this culture only for the purpose of attaining a certain image, or impressing a particular group of people, is inherently problematic. It is possible for women or girls to do things for a purpose other than seeking the approval of someone else, namely the men they are accused of attempting to attain it from.

Similarly, this social construct, labelling and at times blatant misogyny can also be seen in the music industry, where girls or women are accused of being “posers” or even “groupies” for liking a certain genre of music or a particular performer.

Men rarely receive the same kind of criticism based on their interests, likes or the aspects of culture in which they choose to engage in.

If girls like games, let it be that simple. If boys like games, that’s cool too. We’re all free to be interested in whatever we like, regardless of the gendering that may surround the subject matter.

What’s even more important is to question our own views and ideas of why people do things. We all do things to impress others from time to time, but the entire female population doesn’t base their interests off what they think men might like.

Oh, and the “you’re not like other girls” thing is a problem too – “other girls” are also fine just the way they are.

Marie Kondo Might Be Teaching Us All To Clean Up, But What Is She Telling Us About Gender Roles?

One husband on the show told his laundry-hating wife “cleaning is sexy”.

We’re cleaning up, sorting out and sparking joy left, right and centre thanks to Marie Kondo. But what has the series revealed about gender norms and expectations within the household?

As a tidy person permanently partaking in a spring clean, I wish that I had been the one to get rich and famous from telling people to toss a bunch of stuff and reorganise the contents of their drawers. That being said, I do not wish to throw shade – Kondo has made cleaning up cool and that is iconic. Please thank your shirts, praise them, hold them, smell them, and donate them accordingly.

Shade however, must be thrown at the unfortunate revelation, or confirmation, that it’s still women who are either doing all/most of the tidying and cleaning, or who believe that they should be doing more. Episode after episode of the Netflix series Tidying Up With Marie Kondo where the couples are heterosexual, we are confronted with the woman’s guilt for not having taken better care of the home.

In many of the instances, the women are working the same hours as their husbands and are by no means “stay-at-home” wives/mothers. So why is the burden, or the expectation of keeping house still falling on the female counterpart in the relationship, and is it occurring subconsciously or with intention?

In the first episode, Rachel explains that doing laundry literally gives her anxiety and later we learn that her husband told her “cleaning is sexy”. While presented in the episode as a candid tidbit, the messaging behind this is concerning on a deeper level if we’re to consider how we view equality and gender roles in the home. To find cleaning sexy is not inherently an issue, but to juxtapose a woman’s anxiety at doing laundry with her husband’s sexualisation of it is at least worth raising an eyebrow at.

According to the ABS, 60% of employed men in 2016 did between zero and five hours of unpaid domestic work per week, while only one-third of employed women did less than five hours a week. This pattern was reflected across all hours of paid work, even among women working more than 49 hours per week – with tasks including housework, grocery shopping, gardening and repairs overwhelmingly being completed by women.

As a neat-freak, I have found myself in the habit of cleaning up after boyfriends on more than one occasion, to the point where the share of the housework has been so heavily weighted in my direction that I have also questioned my own feminism. Am I doing this because I’m female or because it’s a preference? Am I doing this because he refuses to or because he doesn’t care and I do? These questions plague my own approach to living in peace, harmony and equality, but the families and relationships conveyed to us in Kondo’s series show women who work full-time, hate cleaning and yet still feel that it’s their job to keep the home neat, tidy and clean. Uncool, 2019.

By all means enjoy watching Marie Kondo, get your home in order, get your life sorted, organise your drawers like never before. But do question what really sparks joy in your home – beautifully folded shirts, or the beautiful balance of gender equality? My hot tip: both!

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