I am a feminist. Now I know that many people who read this, whether you know me personally or not, whether you’ve stumbled across this blog by accident, whether you typed in a random series of keywords which somehow lead you here, or whatever, will have already formed some kind of opinion of me based on that one sentence: I am a feminist.
This intrigues and scares me. What will your opinion be of me? What tasty morsels of personality will that word – feminist – have triggered in your mind? It is a tragic but true fact that many people these days – men, women, children, transsexuals etc – will perhaps blanche, nay, flinch a little, at the word FEMINIST. The negative connotations this word evokes automatically encourage people to distance themselves from it.
‘Oh, I wouldn’t call myself a feminist. I believe women should have equal rights and men are no better or worse, but really, I’m not one of those, like, crazy feminists.’
No one can say it better, so please drink in the words of the brilliant and inimitable Caitlin Moran:
“a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said ‘yes’ to both, then congratulations! You’re a feminist.”
While ensuring I didn’t make a knob of myself by misusing the word ‘inimitable’, I typed the word ‘feminism’ into my nifty computer dictionary thingy and was presented with this definition:
‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men’.
By this definition (and let’s face it, the nifty computer dictionary thingy is a pretty credible source), anyone who supports the idea of feminism is a feminist, and not just women.
So I say to you all, men, women, children, transsexuals etc, do you believe women are men’s equals? Yes? Bang. You’re a feminist. Brava! Do not be frightened! Being a feminist does not make you any of the following: crazy, angry, strident, vocal, stupid, radical, anarchic, hysterical. It doesn’t mean you cannot be any of these things and more (and these people are often quite fun to be around), but it does mean you are automatically a million times LESS LIKELY to be any of the following: a Neanderthal, a sexist pig, a misogynistic throwback to the freakishly recent Mad Men-esque* era of sexual politics.
Being a feminist also does not mean you have to agree with everything Caitlin Moran, Germaine Greer, Mary Wollstonecraft and Emmeline Pankhurst have said and written. These ladies and their contemporaries are mouthpieces for the generations, but as part of the institute of free speech and the ability to string a coherent thought together, you are entitled to form your own opinions! Yay for free will! There is no ‘one type’ of feminism. You do not have to align your beliefs on fashion, abortion, lesbianism, body image, religion, lifestyle etc in order to present one set of ideas with all the other feminists. That is the beauty of individuality.
I’m sure people will read this and resist the urge (or perhaps give into it) to roll their eyes. Go right ahead, I can’t stop you (there enters our cheeky friend, Free Will, once more). Maybe those people will think I am wasting my time and energy by typing this (“But Emily, women can vote and work and drive and be the boss of people and everything. We’re all equal already, dammit”), but the more I read and think about this, the more I notice the sexism and inequality that plagues the female race STILL, in today’s day and age.
You only have to look at advertising (particularly photographs), listen to various popular music (see a crapload of hip-hop and rap), look at some of the zingers the potential future leader of Australia Tony Abbott has come up with, or let comedians defend each other on the use of ‘harmless’ rape jokes. It’s our responsibility, not just as feminists but as human beings to start pushing for more respect. I’d like my grandchildren to view us as a generation of happy and respectful citizens and for that to happen, there needs to be a higher standard of esteem for our fellow homosapiens.
And now I need to go to work. Maybe I will continue this another day, maybe not.
*I enjoy Mad Men and it’s satirical nature as much as the next person. So don’t be hatin’.