Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Feminism and Me

I don’t often call myself a feminist - this usually causes a shocked gasp when I tell fellow females; it’s funny how times change and it’s now a taboo not call yourself a feminist rather than vice versa. Not shouting that I'm a feminist from the rooftops doesn't mean I’m against feminism. I’ve been aware of feminism from a young age; growing up my Mum had a genuine Suffragette poster in her bedroom, I was told stories of Emmeline Pankhurst and my home girl Ada Nield Chew – these women are the reasons why my Mum and Auntie were allowed to become single parents and divorce deadbeat husbands and bring up their girls to never need a man. I make sure I make an informed political decision in every election and cast my vote, not because of any political preference but because woman died so that I could. These old school feminists are the kind of ones that I really relate to and respect.

feminismˈfɛmɪnɪz(ə)m/noun[if !supportLists]1.    [endif]the advocacy of women's rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.

Feminism has dramatically changed over the years, and quite rightly too, I don’t want anyone having to sacrifice their lives for change (although I am aware that many still do). My point is that, as a privileged White British female, I have jack sh*t to moan about in comparison to women of other cultures, races and circumstances. In this patriarchal society, I earn a good wage, have a good career and a beautiful home that I live in with one of those men-things.

I find the modern day feminism that I am exposed to, usually demonstrated by (equally privileged white British females) problematic, egalitarian and extremely divisive, fighting quash men rather the equality of the sexes that the word is specifically defined as. As inconvenient as tampon tax is – I’m more grateful of the fact that I am in a position where I can go and buy tampons, hell, I can choose what colour wrappers I want, scent, brand and how they pop in. I’m not going to moan about the tax on them when there are women are forced to ‘free bleed’ through no choice of their own. Who am I to tell a woman that she shouldn’t be ashamed of her period when I have no knowledge of what her period symbolises?

Don’t get this twisted and think that I’m not aware of the wider issues that feminists are fighting; rape, arranged marriage, FGM, human trafficking, sex slavery – slavery at all, public shaming and murder to name a few. Feminism is about allowing woman across the world to have the platform to speak up for themselves and be heard but the seven year old girl being forced to marry a man four times her age is being shouted over by the woman on twitter stating that she’ll never take her husband’s name when she chooses to marry. The woman being repeatedly raped and abused can’t be heard over the moaning about the other women who was cat called on the way to work by the blokes in a van. The women being sold like a commodity cant speak over the woman saying no one should ask her father for her hand in marriage…Do you see my point?

If there was world wide feminist organisation – almost government or party and they had the opportunity to write a manifesto and govern feminism globally, western women paying tampon tax or being body shamed and sexualised in the media wouldn’t be anywhere near the top of that agenda. Feminism isn’t about you, it’s about women, it’s about us coming together in unity and standing for equality. It’s about giving up your right to your privileged platform of free speech to a woman who has more issues, bigger issues than how many times female protagonists discussed men in a film or, how problematic you find Kanye West.

Some western feminists seem so intent on forcing people to acknowledge their privileges that I wonder how aware they are of their own? I can’t comprehend how one privileged woman who has the privilege of a platform to really speak and make a difference in the global feminist movement would choose some seemingly trivial issues in comparison to what is going outside of their world. Yes, catcalling, body shaming, tampon tax, and period shaming are not ok but as women, we have much bigger issues to be tackling first.  

So I guess I am a feminist – I’m just a feminist with a different agenda and a different ideology of what feminism means to me, which I have the privilege of being allowed to express. I’m blessed to live in a society where I can pick and choose my battles, I can decide what I stand for and, what I don’t.
Here’s to Ada, Emmeline and Rosa to name a few for setting a standard that we can only hope to achieve.


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