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Student Comedian Michael Odewale on Men and Feminism

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“I can’t help but get a little suspicious when men call themselves feminist” says student comedian Michael Odewale. Odewale is no stranger to women’s issues, with a stand-up routine of “politics to pigeons”. Having grown up in Dagenham with his sister and mother, Odewale is a recent Greenwich graduate making his mark in the British stand-up scene. In 2016 he became a finalist in BBC Radio New Comedy Award and is now performing across the UK. “I’ve done alright in comedy and I would put it down to…trusting myself and just being good at taking opportunities that have come my way”.

On the subject of feminism, Odewale is quite critical of those who use the term, stating “you can call yourself a feminist and everyone congratulates you on how progressive you are, but could still be doing sexist things”.  A criticism he believes applies to men and women, continuing on to say “I think it’s one of those things where actions speak louder than words.  If people see the things I do and say and think it’s feminist then ok then, but I am not going around blowing my own horn”.

Online educational platform Everyday Feminism, defines Intersectionality as the acknowledgment of “multiple aspects of identity…and experiences” in feminist discourse. Odewale believes intersectionality is important, stating “there is a well-documented race problem within the feminist movement. “It’s not as inclusive as it should be”, he said reacting to statistics on electoral support for Trump. “A lot of white women voted for Trump. I saw a tweet earlier, saying it goes to show that it was an inclination that a lot of white women are more afraid of losing their white privilege than their rights to be a woman. That’s a big generalization of course to make but I can’t lie, I felt there was some truth in there.”

Though both critical of the feminist movement, and resistant of the feminist label Odewale does not agree with the mennist movement. Mennism is about fighting for men’s rights, a label adopted by controversial figure Rosh V who wishes to legalise rape. Odewale comments, “It’s a silly name first of all. They should rebrand”.  Adding to this point he said, “there are issues that affect men that are important and need to be addressed, mental health being one of them and more attention and resources should go into them”. Meninists highlight an “important conversation” which deserves its own place “and should not be at odds with feminism.” The future for male feminists to Michael Odewale, is then one where men “support and more importantly to listen to women” even if they do not identify as feminist.

(Photo reference https://ichef.bbci.co.uk/images/ic/976x549_b/p044b9yq.jpg)

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Is Feminism still needed? (Male Edition)

 

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With 2016 drawing to a close, the question which needs to be asked is whether or not feminism is still needed in the future. Conducting a survey at The University of Greenwich, four male students from a variety of backgrounds were asked to share their thoughts on the topic of feminism and its relevance.

Results suggest it is their experiences as youth, which have a fundamental impact on their views of feminism today. Calin Epure, a Politics and International Relations student commented that, “growing up in Romania you are subject to certain views and notions and honestly I don’t know if I’d be the same person had I not left at the age of 16.” Similarly Karl Howarth, currently studying Creative writing talks of his life as a child, describing his “single mother and her extended family, in a council house” an experience at the root of his feminist identity.  Recent graduate Michael Odewale, however though raised in a house with his mother and sister does not identify as a feminist.

This would suggest that experiences as a child is not instrumental in male feminist identity. There are other factors, in terms of skepticism towards male feminists which contribute. Michael holds this view, having stated “if people see the things I do and say and they that its feminist then ok then but I’m not going around blowing a feminist horn”.

The resistance of the feminist label is very much alive, but Politics student Tom Owen, though he does not identify as a feminist is aware of its importance.  “Feminism is a moral principle or belief value,” he said. For him feminism is necessary, though a label he would rather not use. Karl on the other hand argued “feminism is essential in striving for equality”.  Continuing on to say, he “believes in the destruction of all oppressive systems, including patriarchy and constrictive gender identities” as an anarchist.

Ideologically Karl stands out among his peers. It is clear his political ideology shapes his view of the world and why feminism is still relevant in his world. Michael, Tom and Calin do not identify as strongly with feminism, but one thing that is consistent within all four men is an awareness of the experiences women face. Regardless of whether or not they identify as feminists, they understand why the movement needs to exist.

It then must be considered if adopting the feminist label is necessary. Though not representative of the entire male population, each student is aware of sexism and why feminism is needed in 2016. Identifying as a feminist is not an essential feature of this awareness. Whether it be political ideology or early experiences as a child, these are the factors that can be seen to influence male feminist identity.

 

(Photo reference:- https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/41/Woman-power_emblem.svg/2000px-Woman-power_emblem.svg.png)

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Anna Pichi: Voices behind The Movement for Justice

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Every year feminists gather in massive numbers campaign against Yarl’s Wood. In 2015, nearly 4,000 people, many of whom have travelled thousands of miles to reach Britain are held in Yarl’s Wood detention center located in Bedfordshire. A key figure in the campaign against Yarl’s Wood is activist Anna Pichi. Pichi reveals the tribulations of inmates, with many risking the heart-breaking pain of being separated from their children.  She adds, “Mabel Gawanas experienced this as a woman who has not seen her 7 year old daughter in almost two years.”

 

Anna Pichi, a migrant herself works hard to tell the stories of women like Gawanas. As an activist, force and fighter behind The Movement for Justice, Pichi is aiming to reveal experiences faced, her motivations behind joining this movement and why students must be involved.

Migrating from Italy 6 years ago, it was the hope for a brighter future which brought her to the U.K, as she believed it “is a place where people from different backgrounds live, study and work together.” Having trained to support autistic children, Pichi was now working towards an ESOL qualification.  Meeting a classmate who was an asylum seeker, It was this friend who introduced her to The Movement for Justice, thus marking the beginning of her commitment to challenging xenophobia and racism. She soon realised that the U.K. is far from perfect, describing the hate crime she faced as an EU national.

The Movement for Justice as an organisation, Pichi states “aims to bring equality and freedom for all, with an approach of less words, more action”. In the hope of a better future, figures such as Anna Pichi “find meaning within this organisation”. By revealing what happens behind closed doors in Yarl’s Wood, she believes “true change can occur.” As the main demographic, women are vulnerable to bad treatment which in the past has led to death.

As a migrant herself, Anna has a deep connection towards the treatment refugees face whether in the context of Calais or Bedfordshire. At the center of the December demonstration, she repeats is an aim “to let refugees know that they are welcome”. “Youth play an integral role in shaping the world of the future…the dream is for students to be part of this mission.”

 On November 17th, Anna Pichi alongside The Movement for Justice will be attending The University of Greenwich to further their political campaign against Yarls Wood.