“I read a book about that…”


As I was just sitting in my Atmospheric Physics lecture (It’s complicated, confusing, and cumbersome), I could think of nothing else than getting back home to continue reading my new-found love: My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem, recommended to me by the lovely Stephanie (https://adventuresofabibliophile.com/). When I told a book-loving friend of mine, she said: “Feminism. The classic. Obviously.” She knows that I spend most of my money on books. About climate change, feminism, and self-improvement. The classics. One year ago I could never have imagined reading about these topics. I would always prefer fiction over reality.

This year I started to cure my little life-crisis with books. Where do I want to go? What do I want to be? How do I get there? Everything was explained to me. In books. All the books my friend and I had read and talked about during our runs in the last months had paid off. We were teaching ourselves how to be good managers more than our study course did.

When I started working on my book on climate change, I also started reading books about it for the first time. Took everything I could get my hands on. You wouldn’t believe how many works there are in our library. Every time I now have a conversation with my dad about the topic I always add: “I read a book about that…” He now is able to interpret the look on my face and finish that sentence for me. Climate change and the media? Climate change and feminism? Climate change and refrigerators? Climate change and bearded trolls in Sweden? You name it.

Through all this reading I got a little overwhelmed by the scope of the project in front of me. I read myself into a writer’s block. Do you know who cured it? Gloria Steinem. I was so excited that even in my lecture I couldn’t stop taking notes. Which was probably not a good idea. Hydrostatic equilibrium? Adiabatic what? Again please?

“A love letter to the books…
That make you jump up hyped to change the world.
That make you write your heart out.
That make you take notes in class with all the crazy ideas you have.
That take you back to your passions.
That make you daydream about reading on.
In which you want to underline every line because they are so true, so honest, so pure, so beautiful. “

My Life on the Road is such a book. I’m just into the first chapters and I’m already inspired. Her writing style is amazing and her sentences resonated with me even in the darkest minutes of my lecture when all I did is scribble down equations I didn’t understand, next to words I had never heard, and a professor who smiled briefly but coldly and said that it all was so logical. Of course. Welcome to uni.

In the midst of all that I remembered her words. They revived in me the wish to also be a journalist, a traveller, a seeker of stories:

“It’s as if attentive people create a magnetic force field for stories the tellers themselves didn’t know they had within them. (…) The simplest paths to deep change is for the less powerful to speak as much as they listen, and for the more powerful to listen as much as they speak.” Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

Weeks after weeks had I tried to word in my book the need for people to listen to each other, to consider each other’s fates, and to be inclusive in all their talking. Who would have known that it could be said that easily…

As you may have noticed I am in love with this book. I will write a review once I have finished it. Until then I have some questions for you:

Do you know any good books about journalism?
Any other non-fiction you can recommend?
What was one book that made you jump in excitement, that inspired you?

I’m Back & Book Project


Oh it has been a long time. I actually have an excuse which is not really one. I have lost my password and nothing worked anymore and exam phase and bla bla bla. But I’m back. I will write essays about the environment and feminism again.

Over the last few months I have been writing daily. It gives me so much pleasure. At the moment these texts add up to 90 000 words… You would think that a student had better things to do. But writing in the evenings is always the thing I’m looking forward to most (Well, not every day … aka writer’s block or evil cycle of self-hatred)

What have I been working on?
It’s a book. You guessed it. My twenty-third (or so) attempt to writing a book. I think everyone is laughing about me and my projects. This one is different, I like to tell myself. It’s non-fiction.
I always loved to read fiction but I could never make enough stuff up to fill a book. I would be overwhelmed by all the things I had to consider. What would they eat? How would their kitchen counter look like? What would the pictures on their walls show? Nope, too much work.
Then I discovered non-fiction. First, through self-help books and then through books about the environment. Which got me thinking. I am an environmental management student. Why not write a book about that? I began to research a little and quickly settled with climate change as a topic. Far too broad. I read loads of scientific papers and decided it should be about the social aspects of climate change. Analyses of feminism, media representation of climate change included. Now that’s a topic I can work with. I wrote a bit and I read a bit and now suddenly it’s 12 000 words. This is going well.

The only problem: I’m a little bit overwhelmed by the dimensions of this project. The more I read the less I know. I am painfully aware of my ignorance and my following ancient concepts of society. I have to step past the rules and read everything I can get my hands on to be able to be a decent human being in writing about this.

This project gives me life, it gives me hope, and it gives me a purpose (why also keeping me putting words on a page every day).

Also I would like to give a huge thanks to the lovely women who commented on my post on feminism (https://verenacave.wordpress.com/2016/11/08/intersectionality-and-feminism/)

https://scribbledstories514.wordpress.com/
https://sammarshihab.wordpress.com/
https://tuneinfeminism.wordpress.com/

Thank you so much for you kind words, they really gave me back some energy to write on and to use my voice.

If you would like to point out any issues or questions I need to include in my book, please tell me! I would love to discuss them with you!

NaNoWriMo Day 8: Intersectionality and Feminism


Privilege. The thing you don’t notice, when you have it. You get so used to it. You open the tap and water comes out. You don’t think: “Holy cow, there is actual clean water coming out of this… thing… and I can drink it! I don’t even have to leave the house for it!” Many things become natural. Let’s take a moment and think about those.

I am an extremely privileged woman, I had a fabulous primary school education with people who were encouraging. My secondary school was great, there were people who were supporting me, getting me into writing, I started drawing. I have wonderful friends who are always there and whom I love dearly. I have amazing parents following my every step and whom I am so grateful for, I just became a bit teary. Now I’m studying. I can go to uni and have a further education, I can pursue my dreams and follow my passions besides it. Art and writing. My loving family who never fails to make me smile, my friends who are so kind and hard working and I just want to hug them every minute of the day.

Privilege comes in so many different categories. I’m reading “Bad Feminist” by Roxane Gay at the moment. It’s an absolutely fantastic book. In a chapter about privilege she mentions that it is important to acknowledge you are privileged. That, however, does not imply that a) you have to change anything b) you have to apologise c) you cannot raise your voice d) you cannot have an opinion and most importantly e) that it hasn’t been hard for you too. It simply means that you are aware of the benefits you received based on certain aspects of your life.

You might be male/ cis-gendered/ straight/ able-bodied/ white/ highly educated/ with high income/ etc etc. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have the ability to talk. To make decisions. The implication is just, that you should listen to other people who are not as privileged as you are. To see that there are other people out there. Because your combination of privileges makes up such a small portion of this earth you shouldn’t speak for all of humanity in that position.

There is the concept of intersectionality which was initially founded by Kimberlé Crenshaw, an American civil rights advocate, in 1989. Intersectionality is often mentioned together with feminism and is a big part of it. The basis of it is privilege. There are so many different ways in which you can be discriminated against. For example, black women are not only facing sexism but racism and these two intersect. Therefore, not every woman, feminism wants to support, faces equal oppression. Feminism is a great movement but it normally doesn’t take all these aspects into account. A good example is that feminism brought in many countries the right for women to vote. But only for white women most of the time! Which is why we need intersectionality. I do not call myself an intersectional feminist because I do not face discrimination on another level than being a woman. I do not have the experience to talk about these issues but I’m very determined to educate myself and listen to other stories.

I am privileged, is what I am saying. It wasn’t easy but it was never hard! And this is where I would like to start my argumentation. On my blog I am telling you my opinion on the problems of the world. Problems that we all face. Sometimes I might even suggest solutions. As already mentioned, I do have the right to speak out even if I’m privileged. However, I often doubt if I’m doing the right thing. Who am I to tell you? I, whose life is so easy with all those people and institutions around helping me all the time. Who am I to cure the world? What annoys me sometimes in the news is people trying to fix problems they don’t even know about. Talking about global climate change and how they should reduce emissions… “We don’t even have a properly functioning sanitary unit”, they might answer, “clearly we have different problems”.

Another point I want to emphasise on is that I’m not an angel. When I am talking about reducing plastics consumption or something like that: I am also drinking out of plastic water bottles sometimes! Maybe I am a hypocrite. Maybe it makes me a bad person talking about things that I do too. However, you might also argue that it is at least good that I recognise it. It’s the first step, it was taught to me by my study course. Recognising that we all have flaws and we do not act morally all the time. We try, though.

(We had a discussion a few days ago that it always should be allowed to state constructive criticism, regardless of the position you are in. The person facing that criticism has to think about reacting to it or not. Criticism is always the beginning of a conversation, even if it has no basis that the other one supports. I think it is important as a decent human being to listen to people and think about what they say. Communication is after all what makes us people.)

Because we are flawed humans, we cannot expect feminism to be a flawless movement. People who are representing it and “fail” are thought to be damaging the concept. Which is simply not true. We are all humans and we need those advocates for equality. As women we need more representation in the governments, in the media, basically everywhere. Not only white women again. Women of colour, women of other than heterosexual orientation, women who maybe didn’t have the best education possible. We want them as main characters and not only side products in films made by men. There is a reason for the existence of the Bechdel-Test. It measures film on the amount of times women are picture talking about something different than a man. 58% of the 6500 films (on http://bechdeltest.com/) listed did not pass that test. An argument was that there would be even more failing if conversations about babies and relationships were not counted. Half of the Academy Award nominees for Best picture wouldn’t have passed the test! In the entertainment business that lack of female contribution is clearly visible. We want representation!

Women bring so much to the table. We have different approaches to problems, we are generally more concerned for the environment. We birth children and therefore miss out on so much because we want to be there for our families and also have jobs. When men talk about their successes, they usually state that it’s because they are great. When women talk about what they accomplished, they are more likely to attribute it to other aspects, not themselves. They had exceptional help, worked hard, had good opportunities…

We need more women in high positions to be able to bring change. As heads of states. There are only a few more than 10 female world leaders at the moment. Today, in the US you have the possibility to elect one more and to hopefully thereby bring change in other countries too. Hillary Clinton is a woman I admire for her strength and endurance and her experience. You are able to contribute to your first ever woman becoming the head of state.

From an outside perspective we are like the annoying neighbours always watching you over the garden hedge. We are deeply troubled by what we are seeing. We are not involved, though. As a person involved in environmental protection, as a feminist, as a woman, I cannot believe, though, there is a candidate who stated that climate change is an invention by the Chinese and who bragged about raping women. This election is not only vital to the US but I think to the rest of the world. It sends a message, after all. It would send a message to women to step in and demand the right to represent half of the earth’s population. It would bring change the focus and underline the challenges women are facing all over the world. It would bring different ways of dealing with problems to the political environment.

“Then we’d come a little bit closer to a balance of women and men in leading positions,” our chancellor said and Norwegian’s president Ms Solberg added that it would be “inspiring for many young women to see politics not just as something that belongs to men”. I think that that is an important part of this election.

This text isn’t about politics, though. I just wanted to share with you some additional aspects of feminism that are important to consider. There are a few points where it gets difficult.

1. When it’s “we” and “they”. I also did it, I excluded myself. This is what we do as humans. We want to be different. Global issues, however, should be discussed as a whole society. Because it matters to all of us.

2. When it is one person trying to find a solution. A person who is not able to listen. Problems are always fixed by the person who knows the problem best and has the adequate measures to fix it. Have you ever tried to tell a friend how to fix their relationship? Yeah, of course you have. We do it because it is so obvious what they are doing wrong. In the end, something completely different worked. We didn’t listen.

The goal in my life is to make this earth a better place than it was when I was born. I want to make voices heard that are normally not and I want to broaden my perspective. I do not want to sit here on my pile of privilege, ignorant and with my sunglasses on, seeing nothing of the world. I want to be in the world and with the world. I want to analyse and think, I want to discuss and review, I want to suggest and expand my knowledge. This is for all of us. A place where we can have that little spark of hope. A spark that may cause change at least in tiny bits of our lives.

Current word count: 14 420

Education.


No matter what anybody tells you words and ideas can change the world.

says Mr Keating in the Dead Poet’s Society, which is one of my favourite films. If you are able to raise your voice and stand up for your rights, you can achieve wonderful things.

In the last days I have been very inspired by the many talks of Malala Yousafzai I listened to. Furthermore, I finished reading her book which I started ages ago. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. Her endurance, her strength, her wise words show me that you always have to speak up and that education is the key for peace and development. Here are some awesome speeches and interviews: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MOqIotJrFVM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAhjiUh-Pho

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aKIQ_AyLi30

I have had the privilege to get a great education, primary and secondary and now even university. I will forever be grateful for that. I love studying and reading and following my curiosity. I love to go beyond what is in the curriculum, ask questions and teach myself new things. When times are difficult I step back and tell myself what a great honour it is for me to have this opportunity and then I go on and study for that exam.

Today, I went for a run with my lovely friend Izzy today and our conversations are always very deep and honest. We talked about our school system and it was the reason for this little text. In schools in Germany you are often only taught what is in the curriculum. You do not learn how to study. You do not learn how to be interested in a topic. You do not learn how to solve problems and seek answers for yourself. You do not learn to think critically.
In their studies, teachers learn a lot about their subjects but hardly anything about how to teach. As I give private lessons now to students, I know how hard it can be to explain something to a pupil who doesn’t want to learn. In those moments I think back to my school experience, search for teachers I admire and ask myself what they would do. I find my answers in only two or three of them. Three from a period of 12 years!

It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. Albert Einstein

I believe that it is as important to know about your subject, as it is to know how to talk to your students. How to motivate them. Being excited about is not required if you want to be a teacher. If you are highly motivated, you will soon see that not many people value that. You simply lose the spirit after some time. We do not value teachers who look beneath the surface or try to encourage critical thinking. We do not value teachers who want you to read and learn all by yourself. We do not value teachers who teach you about life and morality.

This is the situation in Germany. We still have a good school system, though, because every girl and boy is able to go to a school. Globally, the statistics are shocking. 60 million children in 2013 did not go to primary school which is devastating. Or as the UNESCO put it:

Among children of primary school age, 1 out of 10 girls and 1 out of 12 boys were out of school in 2013.

You can have a closer look at the figures here: http://www.uis.unesco.org/Education/Documents/fs-31-out-of-school-children-en.pdf

Schools are the key to a peaceful world. Education teaches us respect, tolerance, patience, understanding. It teaches us about culture and values, about moral and our human rights.

When in September 2015, about one year ago, the world leaders decided on the new global goals I was thinking about which my number one priority would be. I decided for number 4. Here is why: If investing in education, we can end wars and therefore bring peace and better lives to people. Education for every child is the first step in the direction of gender equality. Children have to learn about our planet and how to treat it, how to act responsible and sustainable.

In sociology in the first semester we had an interesting graph: People with higher education are more likely to act environmentally responsible. Out of this group, women are more likely to do so than men. What are the consequences? We have to educate people from a very young age and provide them with primary and secondary education to show them the importance of treating our mother earth right.
Many girls are not able to go to school because of war, of cultural aspects and they will stay at home. They will raise their kids to believe in the same values as they do. There is no escape except, they receive a quality education. It empowers them, gives strength to their voices and makes them stand up for their rights and beliefs. We need more women leaders in the world and I believe that they will also bring change in the way we treat our environment. If they are not in positions for change, they will at least ask the right questions, they will speak up and their combined voices will lead to rethinking of the challenges we face today.

I’m curious…

Which of the global goals would you choose as your priority?

What are your thoughts on education?

I am a Feminist.


I am a feminist. It is a troublesome word. I do not hate men. I am not offended if a man opens the door for me. I wear make-up. It is not about all of those things.

I believe in the equality of men and women. It’s as simple as that.

I believe that women and men should have equal opportunities. I believe that people should be paid equal money for equal work regardless of gender. I believe that women and men both should be allowed to do with their bodies whatever they like as long as it does not harm to others. I will turn very angry when being catcalled and I have absolutely no understanding of that.

Feminism is sometimes described as a type of glasses. If you dive a little into the topic, you will spot sexism everywhere. Sometimes you have to put these glasses down because it gets a little overwhelming. I am not that kind of woman who says that everything is sexist. I live in Germany, a country with relatively good emancipation and with quite good equality between men and women. But we are not there yet! We have not reached equality, nowhere on this earth! This is why it takes a movement like feminism to change it.

Many people have attempted to change the word. Because of its associations. However, I am of the opinion that we should keep the word. It’s an established thing, why change it? As long as people fight for equality, why fight about the word?

  1. I want girls to have the best education they can possibly have – not set by their gender. Malala Yousafzai is a huge advocate for girl’s and children’s rights and I have the deepest respect and admiration for her which is also the reason I drew her for this post.
  2. I want to see more world leaders who are women, I want to see more women in higher jobs because they handle problems differently and this is a huge advantage. They should be there not because of quotas, but because of intelligence and capability.
  3. I want men and women to work together in all kinds of jobs, adding up knowledge to make the world a better place.
  4. I want to see no more little girls who want to be engineers and are held back by their families because they are girls. We lose so much, not allowing them to work on their dreams!

This list is so insufficient, but please tell me if you identify as a feminist or not and why. What are your goals for the world? How is the equality of men and women in your country? Which are the most important problems we should be dealing with now? And how?

I read a few books in the last weeks which really inspired me and made me like the fact that I am a woman.

I would like to recommend:

“The Color Purple” which is obviously a really basic read for aspiring feminists, if you want to say it like that. Read it.

“Half of a Yellow Sun” and “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie. I have no words to describe how much I adore this woman. She did an amazing Ted Talk (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hg3umXU_qWc) on the topic of feminism which inspired me a lot and made me realise so many things. Her writing is both gentle and honest, but can have a cruel narrative, showing the horrors of this world. They are worth reading. They really are.

“How to be a Woman” by Caitlin Moran. This one is really really great. It answers so many questions and it gives an insight on how a female brain works. Not that I didn’t know that. It makes me feel less of a freak. She did write about that topic quite brilliantly.

img_20160908_163842

One last resource I would like to offer you: Emma Watson has a book club in which some of the books I read are discussed. I especially enjoyed a conversation between her and Gloria Steinem. You can watch it here, it is fabulous.

Feminism is a HUGE topic and I will be talking about it more often now. There are many issues that interest me. Feminism and Sustainable Development, Feminism and the Media… Lots more to come. If you have any suggestions, please share them and I will talk about them.

Xxx

Verena