Are you scared to call yourself a feminist? Even though you think you should be and you probably want to be and you might be already but...but.... really you’re just worried that someone:
- a) Will suddenly expect you to list off all transgressions towards women since time began? And therefore cause you to have a hundred thousand counter arguments as to why you shouldn’t be?
- b) Will ask how you can be a Feminist if you wear make-up, care about your appearance, shave your armpits, are attracted to men, enjoy sex etc?
- c) Will think of you as some raging bra-burning radical hangover from the 70s who doesn’t wash and wears Birkenstocks?
- d) Will think you just hate men? (Oh bless her; she’s had a hard time with a fella, poor dab).
- e) Other?
If you answer yes to one or all of these questions PLEASE don’t despair!
Up until a few years ago, I don’t think I would feel brave enough to come out on social media and spout anything about Feminism. I actually studied gender identity in Uni and wrote my dissertation about Surrealism through the eyes of a feminist. And yet I was STILL too scared to say I am a feminist. For all of the above reasons and more. I was terrified that either a particularly articulate misogynist would shout me down, or a not particularly articulate but more-well-read Feminist would shout me down. Or in fact ANYONE would shout me down!
But in the last few years, thanks to social media and the voices of some great women in the UK media in general, (Caitlin Moran, Lauren Laverne, Hadley Freeman et al) I feel braver. So brave in fact that I want to really start talking about it more. I don’t want it to be this big, oppressive “opinion” that makes people think you’re a raving extremist. It doesn’t have to be. I want people to embrace it and not feel embarrassed to call themselves Feminist. Men and Women alike.
I know there are some people who have a problem with the term Feminist because they feel its exclusionist. If it’s a term that represents EQUALITY then why aren’t we equality-ists?! Well put simply.... the pendulum has swung in favour of men for a very, very long time. Everything we experience in our society has been created by men to benefit men (ie the patriarchal society). They have historically held all positions of power, be it in family (the male lineage, taking the male name, the son being first heir etc) or in positions of power within Government, Business, Religion etc. So to swing the pendulum the other way, we have to shift the balance to include women, hence the term Feminism.
We are now, I have recently learned, entering what some people are calling the Fourth Wave of Feminism. Who knew there were so many waves?! Thanks to people being able to articulate themselves better with the “edit” facility of social media, people are able to express themselves in a much clearer way. And Feminism is a hot topic.
And I say “people” and not just women because wanting equality of the sexes is not exclusive to just women. Plenty of men want in on it too.
BUT the first wave was started by the suffragettes and most notably Emily Davison throwing herself at the King’s horse in 1913. 1913! That’s over 100 years ago and we’re still talking about needing equality! Come on peeps! We need to grab this thing and run with it!
So you don’t know all the ins and outs of the beginnings of Feminism, you don’t know who Emily Davison or Simone de Beauvoir or Germaine Greer are? You’ve never heard of the Male Gaze much less realised you were a victim of it? Who cares!?! You wear make-up and shave your hairy bits and actually want to feel attractive to the sex you want to attract...according to the patriarchal standards of beauty that we accept as normal? SO? SOOOOO? Why is it bad to want to feel normal and accepted amongst your peers?! That’s not WRONG. That is utterly your choice and it certainly doesn’t dictate whether you should feel embarrassed about wanting equality for women.
How about THESE questions:
1) Do you think Female Genital Mutilation is acceptable?
2) Do you think a man and a woman doing the same job should have different pay?
3) Do you think the way a woman dresses dictates whether or not she should be raped?