Right enough, feminism has become a dirty word. A word that people often refuse to be affiliated with and a word that can be seen as taboo in some places. But why?
I started to forge my political opinions maybe a few years ago and admittedly I found it hard to find my voice. I got some stick for identifying myself as a ‘feminist’ and it quickly became the label by which people would associate me with. Despite having multiple, strong opinions about many other things, it appeared that whenever I showed emotion towards ANYTHING I was almost always met with the response ‘Ooooh, don’t want to piss off the angry feminist!’. Now it was all taken in good humour, laughs were had and I don’t remember being TOO butthurt about the situation. So I say. When I look back at it now though, it really makes me think. Why did people always attempt to make me look stupid and embarrass me, by highlighting the fact I call myself a feminist?
I have a strong theory about this, which perhaps many others believe too. In every social group or close community, there are usually a small minority of those people who give up a bad image of that larger group. For example, ISIS although having no affiliation with Islam or what the Qu’ran teaches, they give a bad name to muslims around the world. Within the Black Lives Matter movement, there are a few individuals who believe violence and prejudice are the best ways forward, when the majority of the group advocate peaceful change and open-mindedness. However many people still compare the Black Lives Matter movement to the KKK because of a tiny percentage of their movement. Similarly, there are a small percentage of people who call themselves feminists, when infact what they’re moving for is not positive, nor anything to do with what feminism is all about.The official definition of feminism is the social, political and economic equality of the sexes. Feminism is not ‘man hating’ like many people think and have continued to believe for so long. With that said, there are still a small percentage of the feminist movement who think this way, that men are pigs and women should rule the world. It all seems pretty juvenile when put into words but this mindset can be really damaging to the movement, and to the progress made within our communities. No man wants to be assosiated with a movement that promotes burning him at the stake so that women can let loose, and I don’t blame them. That’s exactly why the feminist movement started, so that people would stop promoting the unfair and degrading treatment of women.However it troubles me that so many people either don’t know what feminism is, don’t want to know or simply don’t care.
The Fawcett Society surveryed over 8,000 people in 2016 to gain an understanding of gender ideals in the UK. It appears that 3 in 5 people or 61% of the population agree with the equality of the sexes but don’t want to identify as feminists. Only 7% self-identify themselves as feminists and 1 in 10 or 9% think that feminism is irrelevant. So then my only argument is, is that do these people truly understand what equality of the sexes entails? Do they understand what feminism is? Because I am unable to find no rational reason as to why people are so committed to tarnishing this word.
The feminist movement is a beautiful, positive thing. It’s a movement that means that maybe in years to come I won’t have to tell my daughters to walk down a dark street with an aerosol in their pocket, or their keys between their fingers like my mum had to tell me. It means that we will tell rapists not to rape, instead of telling victims not to be raped. It means that young women in other countries will no longer be subjected to FGM and will have access to means of an education. But it also means many other things too such as the fact that maybe in 10 years time, boys and men won’t be made to feel inhuman for expressing emotion. It will mean that when men come out as victims of rape and domestic violence, they will be taken seriously instead of being told ‘You’re a man. You’re supposed to love sex.’ Similarly, the Oscar-winning film Moonlight highlighted black gay love in all of its joy and beauty, which is something that can be difficult to discuss in the black community, but now there are people bringing light to this struggle. It’s a movement that supports the rights of all individuals, male, female or non-binary.
Although there are so many positives here for everyone who wishes to involve themselves, so many people see it as a joke. It’s shocking to me, the amount of times iv’e been told something to the effect of ‘women have enough rights. We can vote, work and drive. What else do you want?’ I know im not the only one who’s been met with comments like this before. But to be clear i’m sure as hell not putting myself through 3 years of university, so i can work my arse off to get the job that I want just so my male counterpart can earn more than me. The wage gap in the UK has decreased from 19.2% in 2013, to 9.4% as of April 2016 so we are making progress, but this is because of the feminist movement. Additionally I know that if I go for this job I so desparately want, then I have a higher chance of being declined for the position… just because im female. In a recent study carried out by Slater and Gordon, it showed that 40% of managers would not hire a young woman, simply to ‘avoid the maternity leave’. So the possibility of me pursuing my dream career could be based on whether I may decide to have children at some point in the near or distant future. No thanks, I am a woman, I am smart and i’m qualified. Hire me 🙂
The more shocking part is, is that people don’t understand just how many benefits there are for men and boys alike. For example There are only 4 male-dedicated rape/sexual assault services in the country, but this is looking to increase. The Ministry of Justice funded a website on 26th May 2015 dedicated to the emotional support and counselling for male sexual abuse victims, which can be reached through SURVIVORSUK.org. The government are beginning to implement harsher sentences for women who accuse men of rape, for example over the past 7 years nearly 200 women have been prosecuted for false accusations, 109 of which were charged with perverting the course of justice which carries a much heavier penalty than simply wasting police time. Additionally, The Huffington Post sparked a campaign with the hashtag #BoysDoCry which acknowledges the emotional sensitivity of men and boys. Throughout the campaign video they asked boys young and old, when was the last time they cried in order to bring light to male suicide. In 2014 male suicide accounted for 76% of all victims and is the biggest killer of men in the UK under 45.
So if you’re still with me, after all those stats and numbers I just threw at you (for a laugh) perhaps you’re now more understanding of what the feminist movement entails. We don’t all blame men and we don’t think women are superior. Some feminists like to grow their armpit hair (which is okay!) and some feminists prefer not to (which is also okay). Some like to write blogs that no one will read……(me.) I just think it’s incredibly important that we all begin to understand what feminism is really all about and they ways it is trying to make our lives better. Stop picturing feminists as these uptight, angry, bitter, screaming balls of stress because thats not an accurate representation. It can be appreciated that some carry the wrong message, but when it all comes down to it we’re all trying to make it in this world. Why not make it easier. 🙂