A few things have happened recently, firstly at my induction for my new job we had an equality and diversity session, during a group discussion my neighbour came out with "...but I'm not a feminist or anything!", because woe betide anyone would think you were. I said I was and felt a bit pleased with myself for standing by my convictions with no one running off screaming.
The other thing that has been developing over time is a the unfortunate pull of the Comments is Free section of the Guardian website. There are a helluva lot of trolls below the line waiting for any remotely feminist post to go up so they can jump in with accusations of humourlessness, militancy, man hating etc etc and lots of "what about the menz" type comments. It is the Guardian so you don't tend to get the "you must be ugly, fat, hairy and unfuckable" crap that floats around twitter but it can still get quite unpleasant, quite relentless and quite silencing. I decided a while ago that I was going to challenge the misogyny below the line where I saw it and for a while I did. It didn't take me long to realise that I'd have more luck challenging the brickish nature of a brick wall.
The whole experience has made me feel quite impotent, as if I am screaming my opinions to the wind while the world goes "yeah, whatever" and while I know that what I have to say isn't for everyone why the hell do people go and comment on those articles if they don't want to engage? Oh yes, they don't want to engage, they just want to tell us what hysterical little bitches we're being and put us in our place.
Image from WickedQueer on Etsy.
Anyway, for the record:
- I am a feminist.
- I do have a sense of humour (I hope) but some things just aren't funny.
- I don't hate men (just the patriarchy).
- When I say I want equality I really mean equality for everyone, not just women...
- And I genuinely believe feminism will help achieve equality.
- I do care about things like the appallingly high suicide rate in young men but again I feel that getting rid of the patriarchy will help as men will no longer feel constricted by societal pressures to behave a certain way.
- I also care about lots of other things besides women's rights but conveniently they often slot nicely together.
- I am sometimes a bit hairy (but hey, that's my choice!).
- I'm probably not all that fuckable to everyone but I really couldn't give a shit. As long as I think I'm fuckable and anyone I wish to fuck thinks I am then it's no one else's business. So fuck off.
- I am sometimes a bit militant but some things are worth getting militant over.
So there you go. I care not if my fellow feminists want to focus solely on women's rights, that is their prerogative. I care not if they hate men, lots of women have good cause to. I care not what they look like because it's none of my business. What I do care about is that women are not silenced, their voices should be heard. I care that my daughters and nieces grow up feeling confident in themselves with their horizons wide. I also care that my two nephews grow up feeling able to express themselves however they see fit without censure and with the confidence to treat all fellow travellers of life as equals.
And now I know that it's not enough for me to pipe up occasionally and declare myself a feminist, it's not enough for me to throw my words to the wind where they can be ignored, I want more. I will make my feminism a priority in my life (and hopefully at the very least manage to attend the International Women's Day march next year).