Saturday

On feminism


Deep breath. Ok, I've been sitting on this post for a long time, and I never had the courage to come out and write it. I know feminism is a controversial subject and there are a whole slew of different- strong- opinions on it. This is part of the reason I want to discuss it. 

The reason I finally decided to go ahead and post this is because of an article I read in last month's Elle magazine (I put it down and forgot about it until earlier this week). The article featured a number of different views on feminism, together with graphics and illustrations to support the discussion. Unfortunately, there were two graphics that I had a real problem with. 

Here's the first:
This is the problem: None of these apply to me. Not a single one (well, except the hairy legs bit but I always shave them if I'm getting them out!). Now I feel like I'm letting the side down. I'm girly- I like make up and fashion. I hate being active. I want to get married and have children. I'm a freaking primary school teacher. Could you get a more stereotypically female job? My lifestyle choices are being stigmatised by a group of people who feel that women should not be overtly feminine. 

Can we also take a moment to look at the comment that says "I'm in prison"? I'm sorry, but is this now something to strive towards? Are there not enough women in prison? Do we need to increase the number of female criminal convictions to ensure equality in the prison population?

I was already fuming over this- The implication that I'm letting womankind down by pandering to female stereotypes, when I turn the page and see this: A list of stereotypes that I'm not supposed to be. Erm, what now? What if I want to be a housewife, or even a mistress? I'll do whatever the hell I like, thank you very much!

This is the problem I have with the blanket term "feminism": It's often used as a way of telling women what they should do with their lives. Don't wear make up. Don't wear skirts. And for goodness sake, whatever you do, do not try to impress a man! Well, I want to look good. I want to please Rich. I want to get married and have children. So what?

Of course, some women don't want this. Some women are assexual. Some women never want children. Some women are masculine. Some women like to cover up. There's nothing wrong with that either. 

What I'm trying to say is: Why are we judging other women in the name of "feminism"? Nobody can decide what it means anyway. Take page 3 as an example. Some feminists vehemently defend a woman's right to make money in whichever way she chooses. Other feminists vehemently campaign to get page 3 banned. Why can't we just let the woman decide?

I know there are different waves and factions of feminism but I've decided to make up my own. It's called the "Let Every Woman Do Whatever The Hell She Wants" School of Feminism Thought. Now what exactly is wrong with that? 

52 comments :

  1. I know you've been super nervous about publishing this but I am so, so glad you did because it's like you took the words straight out of my mouth! I am most certainly a part of your new school of feminism, lady.

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    1. Thank you so much! Let's make a group!

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  2. Feminism should be about exactly that, letting women be what they want to be. I often wonder about the women who are left behind, the ones who *want* to be housewives, those who *want* to look after their children, their home, their husband. Those women are portrayed as the ones who let feminism down. The ones who were lead to believe that this was the best road that they could take by the men in their life. Does it ever occur to people that perhaps this is what they have wanted to strive for?

    I completely agree with standing up for women's rights, it's such an important matter, but there are 32million women in the UK right now and we have to remember that every single one of us has different views from the next. I think it gets forgotten about sometimes :(

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    1. I totally agree with you! I hate it that women turn against other women just because they make different lifestyle choices!

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  3. I 100% agree with what you're saying. I'm 22, married and have a toddler. I like baking cakes and all I want from life is my own pastel coloured KitchenAid. It's sad that people won't see me as a feminist despite the fact that I've chosen all these things for myself - as well as choosing to go to university and choosing to move myself 300 miles away from home. I know a lot of girls are afraid of calling themselves feminists as they think it means they're hairy and hate me, but it's just so silly.

    With so many acts of inequality against women, we need to learn to stick together - not brand each other as feminist or not.

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    1. Totally with you! And props to the KitchenAid!

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  4. I'm glad you decided to write this post - I knew it would be good!

    I completely agree - saying that feminism means women can 'break' stereotypical rules about what it is to be a woman is discriminatory in itself. Feminism means you believe in equal rights and that's the end of it. Equal rights means that men and women can be whatever they bloody want as long as they're not hurting anyone. Articles like this really annoy me. Well said, Becky!

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    1. Yes! That's all it should be about! If men are praised for being stay-at-home parents, why aren't women?

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  5. I completely agree with everything you said! Pleased you decided to post it! :) x

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  6. You summed up perfectly my feelings on feminism.
    I love you.
    xox

    hannahmckeever.blogspot.com

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    1. I'm so glad it's not just me! So much love in the room!

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  7. I applaud you excellent inspiring post xox

    http://apotofvintageplease.blogspot.co.uk/

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  8. I agree with this and I think it is silly to use feminism to try to tell women how they should act as feminism is meant to be about giving women more freedom.
    I have to put my view out there though and I am in no way trying to argue with you or say your ideas are wrong but I am totally against Page 3. Women can live as they want but I don't think things like that should be so public. For some women it is liberating but when it makes some people not be able to see past a woman's body and understand that there is a person behind the boobs (to put it bluntly). It is not may be liberating women from one form of patriarchy (the kind of pre-1920s one) but it then bringing them towards another (the one where women are used as objects for the enjoyment of men).
    I hope I don't come across as rude - or an 'angry feminist' ;) - and it was really interesting to hear your views!
    theemeralddove21.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You don't need to worry about expressing your opinion. I'm not against Page 3 at all but I have no problem with others debating it, so long as they're respectful like you! Of course you don't come across as rude!

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  9. This is a really great post Becky!

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  10. Let us do whatever we want! I'm right there with you. I love makeup and being girly and would love to be married and possibly have kids some day, but I absolutely never want someone telling me I have to do those things. I don't. Every woman should do whatever they want with their lives. Feminism to me is just true equality for women.

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    1. Yes! I agree with everything you said!

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  11. I like to think that modern feminism is more inclusive that previous versions, but sometimes I think it might just be the way I view it, especially with the way most mainstream media seems to be portraying it. I especially hate that 'I Am Not' poster, urgh, how anyone thought that was a good idea is beyond me. I especially hate this idea that by making certain choices (being a housewife, being promiscuous, wearing make up to work out etc) means you are 'letting the side down'. It not only causes division but suggests that women can only be one thing, when the reality is we're all many things. I really loved this post Becky, I've been thinking about writing something about my thoughts on feminism for ages but haven't been able to articulate it properly yet xo

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    1. I totally agree that it causes division. It also causes some women (myself included!) to feel so confused about the whole business and therefore feel apprehensive about getting involved in discussions about feminism.

      I'd love to read your own post if and when it's posted.

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  12. I don't think that feminism is about banishing gender stereotypes full stop. I think its about saying that women should have the choice. Women should be able to wear what they want and do what they want with their lives without being unfairly judged just for being women. I understand where you're coming from and I used to think that way too and I do still see problems with the things you pointed out in this post. However, I think that campaigns like this are important because they show how extreme stereotypes of females are and one of the ways to fight against that is by coming at it from an equally extreme angle. There are lots of different types of feminist. I'm a radical feminist but not the kind of radical feminist that thinks all men should die etc. Of course, if you're not in prison it doesn't make you a bad feminist! I'm totally into fashion and makeup and loads of girly things but I'm still determined as hell to 'smash the patriarchy' or whatever. In fact, I think that being as feminine as possible in some ways is a very feminist idea because by taking on masculine traits we are only agreeing with society that everyone wants to be male because males are dominant. I think it all comes down to allowing us to have the choice and not being put in a box immediately based on those choices xoxo

    http://prettypassionsfinefashions.blogspot.co.uk

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    1. You make some really interesting points here, especially the bit about how masculine traits imply that people want to be male. Thank you!

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  13. I can't even call any of that bollocks feminism! I call myself a feminist, it just means I think we should have equal rights to that of men, and we should have the right to do as we please! Whether that's being a housewife, a career-driven woman, a woman without the want for kids, a woman who loves to be girly, etc! Just the other day a girl who called herself a feminist had a go at me because my friend asked to take some promo pictures for his record label with some cute underwear on, and said I was "letting the side down"!! Like, I took the pictures myself, they weren't even provocative or even as revealing as photos I've used on my own blog! It's just crazy. I hate the idea that I can't express myself! x

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    1. Oh God, I hate the whole "letting the side down" thing!

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  14. Hiya Becky,
    I think it's great that you've come out and said what you feel about that campaign, and it's always good to have a discussion over these kind of things. My feelings are that the first advert is aimed at those women who do something for a living that is outside of their gender norm. As a primary school teacher, it's less of a necessity for you to assert the fact that you are a woman. For a woman who has a PhD and her title is 'Dr.' it must be very wearing when people assume automatically she is a man. It's not to say that you're not a woman because you none of those apply to you, it's just to say that those people who those unconventional things apply to are also women.

    Secondly, I think the point of the second advert is simply taking the piss out of how the media, or men, or women, talk about women. It's not trying to tell you that you can't act in or dress or be a certain way, it's just highlighting how there are so many names like "bitch" or "slut" that are used to put women down when we do act in a certain way. I.e. if I decide to sleep with somebody I've just met, it's very likely I'd be called a slut. That name-calling doesn't, however, affect men. Not fair. Also, referring to a woman as a "career-woman" or "womb-in-waiting" just reduces us to one thing. As if we can't be multi-faceted and have lots of different aspects to ourself :) Just as you have highlighted in your annotations!!

    I just want to make it clear that you really are not excluded from the feminist movement! I am quite stereotypically feminine, and I also shave my legs, and want to be a teacher. But part of the point is caring about the fact that other women who don't live their life like this are also seen as 'women' and aren't called quite offensive names.

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    1. I see what you mean about women doctors. That's a very good point! I agree about the name-calling not being fair but there's also this idea that women shouldn't try to please men that I don't like. I like to make Rich happy, and sometimes that includes looking my best for him or, you know, "other stuff".

      Thank you for such a thoughtful, intelligent comment! It really made me think!

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  15. This is exactly the problem with feminism - the issue it has always struggled with. Don't get it wrong, I'm all for it, but read Judith Butler for example. Like other 'groups' that have been/are still oppressed, 'women' can't really be thought of as 'a group'. It's confusing trying to stand up for 'women' when there isn't (nor there ought to be) a category that every 'woman' supposedly falls into, obviously apart from certain biological differences (although even these can be seen as too strict, like Butler demonstrates), there is just 'women'. The thing is, just like there are tons of different 'types' of women, so are there tons of different types of feminists. Rambling a bit but my point being that I agree with you, there ought to be no lists listing what women should or should not do or be because that just seems to defeat the purpose.

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    1. This is so interesting! I'll look into Judith Butler.

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  16. I think this is just another case of feminism being misrepresented by the media. The article in this magazine does not represent modern feminism as I see it. Feminism is simply this: the strive for equality between the sexes. Nothing more, nothing less. Feminism is about choice, for women and for men, and I think that's the important thing to remember. Articles like this just show how far the feminist cause still has to go. We need to get to a point where any lifestyle choice that a woman makes is accepted and no one feels the need to pass comment on it. Equally, we need to get to a point where men can be primary school teachers, nurses, and stay at home dads if that's their choice, without any social repercussions. Previous generations of feminists felt the need to push against traditional female stereotypes, but this alienates those women who do want to be wives and mothers. We need to go back to basics with feminism, stop with all the intersectionality and just support each other - men and women, to full equality. The tricky part is show women and girls that they *can* strive to be doctors and academics and business CEOs, without making the more traditional female roles seem unappealing or wrong. We need to push the idea of freedom of opportunity, so that women know that no avenue in work or home life is closed to them. Then, maybe young women in the country would stop being ashamed to call themselves feminists. Thank you for this blog post Becky. You've made some excellent points and I really appreciate you bringing this issue to your audience -x-

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  17. I've not read the article in question, except for the bits you've posted, but the majority of the feminist community that I've encountered (as a feminist) wouldn't judge you for being any of those things, as it's a choice you've made yourself. I think that's the point? I like sex, wearing makeup, cooking for my boyfriend, I can get hysterical (that word - ugh) but I'm more than that, I'm not just a whore/slut/fifties housewife/calm down dear. Could that be what the 'I Am Not' poster is saying? That you can be any and all of these things, but you're more than that at the same time, you're not defined by any of these things. As I said, I've not read the article, so maybe not what was intended here; but generally that's what feminism is about, a woman being who she wants to be because that's who she wants to be, and not because of some idea of what a woman should be like.

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  18. Yeah, I mean I'm a post-graduate Women's Studies student and it definitely feels like the kind of feminism you're attacking is the kind of feminism most people in the circles I am in would disagree with. Feminism is about having the freedom to make choices and while you may feel that in the UK you have many choices, people living elsewhere don't. White westernised feminism is the worst. Basically what I'm saying is please do not get your information on feminism from Elle, that's like getting your news from Facebook.

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  19. I'm glad you bought this up! I like 'boyish' things such as gaming and talk about it happily but I sometimes feel judged when I say I like girly things like fashion. I almost get the feeling that I shouldn't like those things and I just get associated with being a bimbo. Apart from that small byproduct of the feminist movement I am all for equal rights for all genders but campaigns such as these should perhaps be a bit more careful with the message they are trying to convey!

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  20. This is why I'm glad I'm a man, it's a so much easier :)

    www.mrjoiee.com

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  21. I think you're confused in this post. The point of feminism is that you have a choice. That choice can well be to be girly and have children and wear make up. There is nothing wrong with that. And nobody says you shouldn't do these things. The point of feminism is that if you do choose to be a mother (I am a mother as well and until recently full-time employee, but now a phd student), you will not be shoved into a house by a man, that makes all the decisions for you. The point is that if you chose to have education, then you can, unlike all those poor girls in 3rd world countries who have to fight to go to school. We have gone a long way as a society and I find it very sad that women who do not understand feminism are undermining it, thus misinterpreting it and leading to more women viewing it as a negative rather than a positive. The old fashioned feminism you are talking about, is the movement of the seventies. It is different now. Cosmo magazine is a feminist magazine, for god's sake, and the whole magazine is about make up, sex and men. That's because we have a right to those things.

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  22. I really love this post - mainly because it is talking about feminism! And that I think is how these articles are good (and bad, like you said). Like you, I don't fit into a lot of these feminist labels, then I also do fit into a lot of them - but I think the important things is to get women actually thinking about these labels that we're given - even if they disagree with them. Like, your opinion being strong enough that you wrote this post - reaching out to a wider audience. I think there is a problem with women NOT wanting to be seen as a feminist, because they think they have to dress badly or not shave their legs or whatever makes particularly young girls feel like they don't WANT to be feminists, and therefore get sucked into the masculine perception of women, without even thinking about it. Like when young girls are surrounded by hideous magazines articles about Kate Middleton's inch of bare stomach when she was jumping or something, how can they not feel like they have to fit into a certain type? That bothers me.
    What pisses me off about articles like this is that it focuses on the labels that men give us, is that by using them to say what we're not, we're still sort of slotting into this world of using terms that men want us to be, in a weird way. Thats why I like that women are trying to reclaim these words with things like the 'slut-walks' etc.. There aren't names like that for men, so to define ourselves (even by negation) with them is bad, I think.
    Also the prison thing gets me a bit - because like you said we don't need more female convictions or whatever, but women in prison have no less of a voice than women that don't, and I think that is very important, given how many women are abused in prisons, etc etc.
    I don't think in any way you should feel like you're 'letting the side down' by being girly and wearing makeup and stuff because theres nothing wrong with that in the absolutely slightest and you need no-ones permission to act how you like etc (not YOU you, just you in a wider sense haha). like okay, I might like to sleep around but I can equally be a feminist - thats how these articles piss me off. You don't have to trade off one for the other, which I feel like is what you're getting at maybe?

    Phew, long comment!
    But like I said I think anyone that is talking about women is alright in my book! (:

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  23. You need to read this blog instead, it's brilliant. Each post is someone different

    http://vagendamag.blogspot.co.uk/

    Why even bother with these magazines? Nothing in them says anything true about being a feminist. The editors know nothing of anything and play on stereotypes because they are trying to make it palatable to the audience, not scare them off. Feminism has a bad reputation and few women want to call themselves asuch because they are afraid of the backlash. It's not even controversial either, I go on about feminist issues everyday of the week and while I get shouted down a lot, I also get agreed with a lot and it's worth fighting for. These magazines are the worst kind of crap, not even worth your time and indignation. It's not an either/or decision, we've known that for ages so take heart that you know better than those stupid editors

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  24. I love you Becky!

    I am with you on this wave of feminism, my own sister thinks feminism means you're man hating, which is the most ridiculous concept i've ever heard of! Feminism for me is about me being able to do what I want, be what I want, wear what I want, act how I want, there are no rules as to what a woman can and cannot do.

    This magazine article is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, it actually works at belittling feminism, and is telling women that they do anything that is typically feminine then they can't be a feminist. I can wear dresses while still having hairy legs, I can spend my afternoon baking away in the kitchen while wearing mens clothes, it has no impact on me being a feminist!

    Also loving your body is not one thing that makes you a feminist, you can hate your body but still be a feminist, or you can love your body and not be a feminist!

    Thank you for posting this :) x

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  25. I have no words to this article. What If I'm a woman and want to be a housewife (or a princess!), why is it bad? Should I demonstrate my beliefs? Anyway, I think this kind of 'feminism' will pass just like a seasonal trend.

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  26. I couldn't have put this better myself - I would definitely like to subscribe to your school of thought Becky. The thing about Feminism, that got lost somewhere along the way, is that it was meant to be about a woman's right to choose. We could have a career. If we wanted. We could get married. If we wanted. Likewise, if we didn't want any of this, then that's OK too. It's down to the individual.

    But Feminism, as it is now, seems to want us all to conform to one big man-bashing, non girly homogeneous mass.

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  27. There's a lot of disagreement as to who said it exactly, but my favourite way to sum up what feminism SHOULD be is that "feminism is the radical notion that women are people too."

    Every person is different. Your likes, needs, and desires are different and we shouldn't be lumped into a stereotype or judged because of any of those things. My feminism says that the colour pink is just a colour, I am not "more" feminist for eschewing it, and men should not be ridiculed for liking it, because we are all just people, dammit.

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  28. Hear hear! I'd say I'm a feminist but in the exact sense of that it's about being who you want to be - whether that's wearing trousers or skirts, a full face of make-up or no make-up at all, having kids or not, getting married or not, doing stereotypically female jobs or not (and yes, in my view full-time parenting is a job). There seems to be so much stuff on the internet, particularly from men, that assumes all feminists are man-hating bra-burners and in my experience that simply isn't true - most of the women I know who'd define themselves as feminists want everyone (men and women) to have the same opportunities and to be treated as equals, simple as that. It's not about wanting to be 'blokey' or 'one of the boys', it's about being yourself and having the chance to reach your ambitions - whatever they might be, and for me being a mum and wife is as acceptable an ambition as getting in the boardroom - and not being treated a specific way simply because you're a woman.

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  29. I think you edited this perfectly! I've been judged for being girly yet claiming to be a feminist - I'll be whatever I want ta very much. If I want to walk around body hair-less and perfectly made up it makes me no less a advocate of women's rights than a hairy-legged, make up-less individual.
    Megan x | MeganRoisinn

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  30. Its Elle magazine, all mainstream 'womens' media does absolutely nothing to represent feminism.

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  31. All mainstream 'womens' media does absolutely nothing to represent feminism. Its very in 'vogue' to be an independent woman at the minute so they'll be promoting being a strong, bold person on one page then the next will be telling you you need to get rid of hair/do your make up a certain way/spend a ridiculous amount of money on clothing. Read them with a critical eye if you must but I've stopped consuming any kind of media like that and my life is so much better for it.

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  32. Sometimes I just want to be a housewife and look after my children whilst a casserole is in the oven ready for when my husband gets home from work, there's nothing wrong with that! If I was in a financial position that meant I could do that, I would! But for now I'm going to pursue my dream of being a primary school teacher.

    Am I a feminists nightmare?

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  33. This is great Becky, thank you for being brave and posting this. I feel the same way. I like to wear dresses over pants, I work in a fabric store and love to sew, I love fashion. I am girly. But I am also a feminist and those two things should not be mutually exclusive. In my opinion there is no right or wrong way to be a woman and feminism should not be about judging other women and their choices.

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  34. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this! Your ideas completely correlate with mine. Even though I can identify with a few points in the first image, I am also very girly! IT'S OKAY to have multiple interests. I hate this whole idea that you, for some reason, can't be feminine and be a feminist at the same time. It's a load of bullocks.

    xx Carina

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  35. This is a great post and I totally agree with you Becky. Thanks for this!

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