Feminism. The ‘F’ word. Angry ladies getting their knickers in a knot. Hairy lesbians simultaneously burning their bras and castrating men. Why is it that one word can have so many meanings – most of them bad?
I’ve had a few discussions recently (some on Twitter and Facebook, some offline) whereby women actively reject feminism. In favour of what, I’m not quite sure. But they dislike the word, and refuse to identify with feminism.
Now, allow me to be clear here: I am a feminist. I am a dyed in the wool, born and bred feminist. I’m sure it wasn’t just my mother’s fault – but I would have to lay at least 25% of the blame at her feet. She *did* play a lot of Annie Lennox when I was younger.
To me, being a feminist is a very simple thing. To paraphrase Caitlin Moran, it goes like this: “Do you have a vagina? Do you want to be in control of that vagina?”.
I would also extend this to men, by simply asking: “Do you wish for women to have as much control over their bodies as you do over yours?”. As I’ve said previously, I believe that men can be feminists. And by god, do we need the numbers. If the members of our own team are deserting us, I will quite happily welcome all men on board. Hell, I’ll even hand out the freebie gift mementos as the men board HMS Greer.
But for some women, being a feminist isn’t as simple as all this. I have heard feminists described as shouty, loud mouthed, and bitchy. Ouch. Although I may personally apply some of these labels to myself (in a very nice way) the feminists I know fall into a much broader category. They’re women, they’re men, they’re straight, they’re gay, they’re bisexual, they’re asexual. They shave their legs, or they don’t shave their legs. They love Germaine Greer, or they hate Germaine Greer. They have a deep understanding of the feminist waves that have gone before them, or perhaps they simply having a burning hatred for all yogurt advertisements .
My own question, to counter one made earlier by Caitlin Moran, is this: “Do you believe that men and women should be equal?”. If the answer is yes, then I believe you’re a feminist. It’s as simple as that.
Note that I didn’t ask whether you believe if men are better than women at some things, and whether women are better than men at other things. That’s another debate entirely. But instead: “Do you believe that men and women deserve to be treated equally in all situations?”
That’s feminism, boiled right down to its core. Equality. And this equality then spreads out into things such as the ability to be in charge of one’s own life, regardless of your sex. The ability to make your own decisions, and be paid the same amount for the same effort that goes into one’s work. The ability to be treated in the same manner as the man or woman next to you.
Being a feminist isn’t something to be ashamed of. Whenever someone tells me that they’re not a feminist, and then proceeds to regale me with tales of shouty women and hairy legged lesbians, and how they’re NOT AT ALL LIKE THIS, I roll my eyes. I have to suppress an urge to shake them and say “STOP FALLING FOR THE PATRIARCHAL MIND FUCK!”. The majority of feminists aren’t like this.
So – why aren’t you a feminist?