Feminism is not a club. Anyone who believes in equality, choice and freedom can be one – 14/11/2014

Lion’s mane jellyfish, August 1973 - National Geographic.
Lion’s mane jellyfish, August 1973 – National Geographic.

Okay, okay, after a silly but necessary inclusion of that beautiful jellyfish- let’s talk about feminism. Obviously. I mean, obviously we must talk about feminism, because we’re in the fourth wave, and maybe we should just all surf that wave, rather than fight against that current, lest we risk drowning.

What a fantastic surfing analogy to begin this post! I don’t consider myself a TRULY terrible writer (she writes, after writing that comparison), but this issue for me is SO important, so forgive me if I come across a bit teary-eyed, blabbery, and occasionally biased, but I just needed to get some things straight. My realest struggle is not being able to find a single argument against why one *wouldn’t* choose to be a feminist in this modern day & age, because it’s so simple and OBVIOUS, surely?

I am a feminist! I am a feminist! I am a feminist! I am a feminist! Feel free to say this doing a little dance, shout it in a nightclub at everyone who comes near you, in your Instagram bio, on t-shirts, at your little brothers and sisters, liked the Pied Piper of feminism.

There are no problems with this word, that’s the first thing we must DISPEL, my fellow insects called the human race, crawling on the planet’s face. I love language, because it holds so much power. It’s kind of like when the word friend, changes to BOYfriend. It’s a word! Haha! Lolz. Feminism is just a word. Yes, it has lots of weight, as it is so often misinterpreted and misunderstood, but if we keep saying it, over and over, it will become easier to admit that you ARE one (because, well DUH) and enable us to TALK about it more. For me, it is a magical word, because it is so empowering whilst causing lots of much-needed debate. It gets me so riled up, but feminism itself ALLOWS me to get riled up *and* write about it on the internet, on my own blog, which I am entitled to just as a man is, without the risk of being shot or imprisoned for it. Hooray! Feminism!

*aside* seeing as it’s just a word- how about we call it “gender equality” instead. Kind of like you can call your best friend, pal, chum, or matey – they all mean the same thing. The two words are interchangeably synonymous, and the definition of feminism is simply: the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. You knew that, though, of course. Not man-hating, just human-loving. Isn’t it a perfect ideal? I presume for those non-feminists, they fear how powerful this could be, and liberating for all. (yes, I’m looking at you boys.)

Emma Watson, spoke in her UN speech of how “If men don’t have to be aggressive, women won’t feel compelled to be submissive.” Guys are bound as much by gender stereotypes as we are, and perhaps the femin- part of the word feminism is what lots of men fear, as they haven’t been told that they can embrace their “feminine side”, for want of a better adjective – the things that are associated with being feminine, such as creativity, vulnerability, taking pride in appearance. Reading poetry. Liking musicals. You know.

Education is fundamental to this cause, and luckily, we live in a time with the GLORIOUS internet, and all these fantastic women writing about it (I’m looking at you rookiemag.com – which I can only thank and applaud for teaching me all I ever truly need know)

Unfortunately, the internet can spew out some hideous monsters, which encourage lad culture, and basically piss on everything the movement is trying to do. I was on @TheMenimist Twitter site yesterday, with a face like :O – not understanding the popularity, or the comments of support, etc. I’m not going to waste my typing efforts, on it- it’s ignorant and NOT cool, not at all funny, under-researched, totally not valid in any way.

It reminds me of a time in secondary school, where one of my male friends was walking through a door- and instead of holding it open for me, purposely shut it in my face. I was all, DUDE, thanks for holding it open for me! and he replied, “I thought you were a feminist? Why should I hold the door open for you? I thought you believed in equality?”

Which made me gasp in bewilderment for how this guy had tapped into some deep intelligent thought that had never crossed my mind! Wow, what a genius! By him, shutting a door on me, leaving me out in the rain, he has pretty much achieved gender equality! Because, OBVIOUSLY, I wouldn’t do the same for him, if god forbid, he was behind me, being a man-hating feminist and all.

Anyway, The Menimist Twitter page is the same kind of smug, cocky, misogynist thing, with ACTUAL comparisons such as:

If I woman hits a man, she is seen as brave. If a man hits a woman, he is seen as an evil, brutal pervert. *RETWEET! FAVOURITE! QUOTE TWEET! Lol! So true!*

I always hate it when a man is seen as a brutal pervert, especially when him hitting a woman is justified.

This is what baffles me when girls, especially, don’t see any place for feminism in their world today. Obviously, there is a HUGE need for specific focus on feminist issues worldwide, with FGM rife and little girls being shot for wanting to go to school- but sexism is there everyday, in some shape or form, and mustn’t we try to change that? Because we genuinely want to, and feel a bit weird if we don’t at least try to do something?

Yes, we can go to university and can study what we like, so why feminism? You owe feminism for those rights. When I was sixteen, a girl proudly announced in front of the class that she wasn’t a feminist because she liked playing Xbox and watching lesbian porn. Babe, say thank you to feminism for that fact you can say that in class. Surely. Thank feminism for the fact you’re in school, surely.

Let’s stay positive about it anyway. Imagine, we could be the generation that gets paid the same as men, has equal representation in Parliament, whilst all standing up for each other, helping each other out.

I have some further reading, for those who have stayed (thanks for that.)

For your boyfriends, male friends, fathers, brothers- this liberating and often unspoken of article on a man’s role in sexism: (and you too, it’s a fantastic and refreshing read.)

http://www.rookiemag.com/2014/06/the-boys-guide-to-not-being-a-jerk/

Also:

http://everydaysexism.com/

For those of you who don’t think sexism is a daily thing. If not for you, it might still be- you may have just become accustomed to it. Read about other women’s stories here, however normalised or ‘petty.’

I truly believe that  everyone who wants to be an advocate for women’s rights can, anything you do, big or small- whether it’s volunteer in third world countries to help women less fortunate than us in the Western world, or just have a conversation with your mum (or dad) about feminism – all helps to bring it into conversation, and the more we say the word, the less scary it will be to say it. We will no longer have to say “I am a feminist, but…”

“I am a feminist.”

There is lots going on to be happy and hopeful about though. My brother picked me up from work yesterday and sang Taylor Swift’s Shake it Off all the way home. I like to think he is subconsciously a strident feminist, but just doesn’t know it, yet.

“A feminist is somebody who is empathetic, who listens, who can’t stand hypocrisy and who loves to see people thrive. Lots of feminists are women, lots of feminists aren’t.”

– Eleanor Catton, 29, author.

Thanks for reading!

TAL x

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