Feminism and me.

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For the record, I’m a feminist. I was raised by two feminists and I married a feminist. Sometimes I think the fact I’m a feminist doesn’t really need to be said. I think, like I assume most enlightened people do, that men and women should have political, social and economic equality, have access to the same opportunities and not be discriminated against on the basis of their sex. I mean, I own a uterus and I would like to be in control of it, k thx bye. But then I run across women, normally  of my generation, who don’t identify as feminists and I do a double take –  as my brain fails to compute. As the fucking fabulous Caitlin Moran says much more eloquently than me:

“We need to reclaim the word ‘feminism’. We need the word ‘feminism’ back real bad. When statistics come in saying that only 29% of American women would describe themselves as feminist – and only 42% of British women – I used to think, What do you think feminism IS, ladies? What part of ‘liberation for women’ is not for you? Is it freedom to vote? The right not to be owned by the man you marry? The campaign for equal pay? ‘Vogue’ by Madonna? Jeans? Did all that good shit GET ON YOUR NERVES? Or were you just DRUNK AT THE TIME OF THE SURVEY?”
― Caitlin MoranHow to Be a Woman

ETA (4.08.2013): This amazing video about why we should all be feminists.

It’s been very much one step forward, two steps back for feminism this month.
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On the plus side, Caroline Criado-Perez successfully won her campaign to even vaguely keep the faintest smattering of representation on Bank Notes with the announcement that Jane Austen will appear on the £10 note.
On the downside she promptly got attacked by vile scum on twitter making rape threats and twitter starkly failed to do anything about it. This didn’t disturb me because I’ve visited comment sites before, I’ve seen my friends change their name to a gender neutral one to avoid the miasma of sexual threatening comments directed there was. What was disturbing as my colleague pointed out was a small vocal minority who argued that she shouldn’t have reported it to the police she should ‘just take it’. And I couldn’t help wondering if a man had been threatened with sexual violence would they be telling him he should ‘put up with it.’
Then there was this article titled ‘We need a men’s movement.’ To which my reaction was, are you fucking kidding me?
As I said to my lovely friend who sent me the article. Maybe Slaughter has failed to notice but for the past, oh forever we have been experiencing a men’s movement. It’s called patriachy, it sucks. And traditional gender norms as reinforced by patriachy are not just hideously restrictive and uncomfortable for women but for men too. I completely acknowledge that the fact that many people still regard babies as something that happens to the women not the couple must be a difficult attitude to take if you are an enlightened man. But let’s keep it in perspective, if you are a straight white man to paraphrase John Scalzi you are playing the lowest difficulty setting there is in this game called life.
Whether you identify as a feminist or not aren’t you fucking tired of this sexist bullshit?
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Aren’t you tired of Page 3’s existence. Of in music videos naked women parading around like slabs of meat next to fully clothed men and never ever seeing it reversed. I mean come on! If we are going to objectify people then at least let’s go for equality.

I’m so fucking tired of knowing more women who have been sexually assaulted and raped than haven’t, as the prosecution rates tumble. And on people still believing that rape jokes are fucking acceptable. No, they aren’t.

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I’m so tired that because of the pay gap most of the women I know are working the last two months of the year for free.

I’m tired of a woman giving birth and the very first magazine cover is focused how she is going to lose the baby weight because women’s bodies are public property open to dissection in a way that men’s aren’t.

I’m so fucking tired of female superhero costumes vs male superhero costumes.

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I’m so fucking tired of the pro-life agenda rearing it’s ugly head in America. It is not OK for anybody to tell any of us what we can and can’t do with our bodies.

I’m tired of walking into a toy store and seeing aisles divided into boys and girls. With chemistry sets labelled as make up sets for girls as we restrict all children by implicitly saying this is OK, and this isn’t.

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Aren’t you fucking tired of a female tennis player who’s reached the pinnacle of her sport being told ‘she’s not a looker’ as if that’s the only thing that matters and that winning Wimbledon is a fucking consolation prize. That the Times labelled Andy Murray’s victory as Britain’s 77 wait for a victor forgetting the women who had won it because women aren’t people.

Aren’t you tired of people telling you to ‘man up’ or ‘you’re acting like a girl’ as the former= the height of strength, and the latter is the ultimate insult.

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Aren’t you fucking tired that we are still talking about this in the 21st century. I am so fucking over all of this.

But I keep telling myself there’s hope, there is slutwalks, gender-flipping memes, the why I need feminism campaign, more petitions that you can shake a stick at, gender neutral parenting, Jezebel, and George RR Martin being a dude.

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It is getting better. But the fight’s not over. If you want to come out of the feminist closet club, whatever your gender, you are more than welcome, we have cookies.  (ETA: 4/08/2013) And if you don’t identify as feminist but you are for gender equality then I’ll be bemused (because see: dictionary definition of feminism) but yay. But if you’re not for gender equality, if by your beliefs or your actions you are actively discriminating towards anybody because of their gender then well, prepare to be on the wrong side of history.

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10 thoughts on “Feminism and me.

  1. I like to think that I am respectful of women, though I am aware that my baser instincts can sometimes over-ride my endeavours. However, being somewhat cynical, I tend to be extremely wary of ‘-isms’ of any stripe, whether they be religiously, politically or socially motivated. I am not arguing against feminism per se, rather the idea that anybody – male or female – who doesn’t sign up to a belief system (which is essentially what feminism is) has thereby relinquished the respect you would otherwise show them. The internet is not the best way to convey one’s feelings – this is merely my honest response to your article (much of which I agree with).

  2. Baser instincts? Please explain what these are and how they manifest (no pun intended) themselves, then I will let you know if I think you are indeed respectful of women.

    1. My eye might wander / I might say something with male friends I wouldn’t in front of women / I might make a snap judgment of a woman based purely on what she is wearing, etc.. Pretty much what I imagine many men do at some point or another. Like I said, I am not 100% respectful all of the time because I am human and I get things wrong.

      1. Thanks for your reply James. I now understand fully what you meant. For me your use of the word ‘baser instinct’ was disturbing as I have previously heard this used as the reason that a woman was abused either verbally, sexually, or physically simply because she was female and the male perpetrator thought she deserved ‘it’, or some such similar justification and that he couldn’t help or control that. The behaviours you describe I would say apply to all of us at times – men and women, and not only with regard to the opposite sex. As you say we are all human.

  3. I am no sort of -ism, but this does not mean I simply let men walk all over me. I stand up for myself when I feel objectified or discriminated, like wise I stand up for others in my life should they feel they have been treated wrongly. I am not pro-active, I do not seek out literature and petitions nor campaign in my free time. Day to day I simply don’t accept discrimination based on any characteristic. I’m not a feminist, I don’t feel I need to be to support equality through my actions?

    1. Thanks so much for your comment. It’s very interesting to hear from you because I think people like you who are actively working to halt discrimination but who don’t identify as feminist are one of the main reasons why I wrote this post. I just don’t understand why not, I guess. I think with the ‘f-word’ there’s a problem of perception and I think that’s partly to do with infighting with second-wave feminism over whether men and transsexuals were feminists (to which I say hell yes!). But I also think the resistance to identifying as feminist is how the world has been tainted and constructed in society as man-hating or unfeminine. And I think there’s an exhaustion or even boredom there particularly among women of my generation, a sort of ‘are we still talking about this. I thought this was resolved.’And while I understand that feeling of just being over it the fact that the PM of this country still thinks it’s OK to tell a female colleague to ‘calm down dear’, that in our highest political space obvious not even implicit discrimination appears shows that we still have a long way to go. And what I was trying in my bumbling words was to say if you believe men and women should be equal then I would class you as a feminist. Hell I will support your right to identify yourself however you choose, and of course you don’t have to be a feminist to be for equality. But I’m not sure I understand why you wouldn’t. Looking historically at different human rights movement it’s become clear that power won’t be shared, it has to be campaigned for and that was what I was urging people to do whether in an individual way as you are doing or in a more organised approach.

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