Slap & Powder

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So to start with our first brief discussion about consent here is a link to The Minefield’s piece on the importance of teaching even the basic concept of consent with younger kids as well as some practical tips on how to actually approach it. You can always refer back also to the NSPCC’s Underwear Rule information which will too advocate for the use of proper names for their private parts as a way to not only give them autonomy over their bodies but also put off predators. The Minefield has also advocated for the use of real language and terms when talking to kids about their bodies.

We also touched upon a recent piece featured on Woman’s Hour about watching porn in public spaces, which whilst seemed to be something none of us had actually encountered in daily life is said to be on the rise. The conflicting arguments for public decency vs. personal freedoms seemed to be one still debated among larger forums and there have been some calls to try to legislate the watching of illicit materials in public spaces. The radio segment was followed up on another edition of Woman’s Hour due to the large number of people contacting them about it. TFL have also stated that anyone experiencing anything like this (along with harassment or anything that makes you feel really uncomfortable) may tell a driver or staff member and they will take action as the watching of porn whilst travelling on TFL is prohibited. How they would actually prevent this from happening in real time is trickier!

Continuing on a porn theme we talked a bit about the reported average age for kids to first view hard-core porn being 9 years old. The UK government have just released and interesting report all about children and young people and their access and viewing of pornography or illicit material. It also touches on some points brought up in our discussions about the influence pornography then has on the sexual and emotional relationships of those kids and teens. Particularly with a view to (predominantly but not exclusively) girls being coerced into ‘sexting’ as well as performing unreciprocated sex acts. Although this isn’t necessarily something we have really had to worry about yet with Minefield Meet Up kids still being in the early-years bracket – it does all speak to a problem best tackled as soon as is appropriately possible. Again we highly recommend Peggy Orenstein’s ‘Girls and Sex’ for a wider more recent study of the sexual attitudes of teens and young women in contemporary society as well as arming yourself (and your daughter!) with a copy of Laura Bates’ (of the Everyday Sexism project) book ‘Girl Up’ for when the day comes to start confronting such things head on! As yet we haven’t come across an equivalent set of books for boys and young men but we’ll keep looking!

We talked very briefly about what kinds of sex and relationship education we would like to see from schools and debated how much is up to us as parents and how much is up to the state when it comes to these conversations. These are certainly all subjects that could easily be explored more fully (tackling the dangers of easy access to online content, teaching positive attitudes to sex, keeping our kids innocent for as long as possible whilst still keeping an open and frank dialogue) at further meet ups. On a pornography tangent we also touched (no pun intended!) upon attitudes toward masturbation (the kids not us!) as well as ethical/feminist porn and the male gaze. All subjects that would make for interesting full discussions in the future as they have come up at the previous meeting also.

Our main topic of discussion for this Meet-Up was make-up, something that means very different things to all of us and made for a really interesting and diverse conversation when looking at not only how to discuss the wearing of make-up with our kids (of both genders) but also our own attitudes towards it. Can you be a feminist and still wear make-up? Yes says Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (author of We Should All Be Feminists amongst other titles) the newly appointed spokesperson for Boots’ No.7 beauty range. She wrote an interesting piece on her point of view for Vogue and there has been a lot of subsequent online debate which generally adds up to the conclusion that feminism is about choice and non-judgement within the movement.

However there is an early second-wave feminist argument that the wearing of make-up and the beauty/fashion industries as a whole are all part of a wider corporate conspiracy to essentially hold women back as well as harness their spending power. Naomi Wolf’s seminal work The Beauty Myth (first published in the early 90s) argues against the beauty industry and its power over women and tries to uncover why so many are led to be self-destructed by subsequent societal beauty standards.

Whilst magazines were still a prevalent medium when The Beauty Myth was written they have been massively superseded by internet content these days. Here to help you navigate these muddy online waters is Vagender Magazine which we also cannot recommend highly enough. Funny and really accessible Vagenda is both online and has a book – a self-titled zero-tolerance guide to the media. Just the tagline “Like King Lear but for girls” should be enough to spark your interest! Both these points of view adhere to the basic principle; argued not just within the realm of beauty but also within other aspects of early-years development as well, such as toys, clothes and TV; that anything feminine or by association female is automatically devalued within our culture and wider society. This discussion will be followed (eventually!) by a piece on The Minefield website as well as with tips on talking to your kids about the wearing of make-up.

Yes we keep banging on about the Southbank’s Women of the World festival but thought putting a link on here wouldn’t hurt, the programme of events, talks and speakers (Ngozi Adichie included) is constantly being updated. ‘Goodnight Stories For Rebel Girls’ previously only available via it’s crowd-funded site will now be available for purchase on Amazon from March 2nd.

Also check out The Minefield’s Instagram (you don’t need an account of your own to view it) where there’s some great pics from the Women’s March on London amongst other awesome images, quotes and stats.

As many people have been asking for recommendations we have also created a Minefield Book List which we will continually update with  great reads for kids and adults alike, if you want to recommend anything also then please do let us know.

Also, another couple of Woman’s Hour links, this time featuring Sam Smethers who is Chief Executive of The Fawcett Society, talking about the Women’s Marches and then again a week later talking about the UK’s sex discrimination laws and how Brexit could affect them.

And last but not least there are some great documentaries out there that are easily available on Netflix or YouTube and are a bit quicker to consume than a whole book so check out the Minefield Documentary List also. We highly recommend “The Punk Singer” and ‘W.A.R.”!

Until next time….





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