It's really odd, and really common, that people preface feminist statements with 'I'm not a feminist, but...' and I still don't understand why. Well actually I think I do, but I'm going to pretend I don't for the purposes of this argument for a minute. As Caitlin Moran always says, 'Unless you're a woman who has actively campaigned to have the right to vote taken away from you, then you're a feminist'. And it's because you believe that women - whether you are one or not - should have the right to vote. Of course they should, right? That's obvious. Well, that's because it comes from the basic, only, and very real premise that defines feminism: that women and men are equal.
From rates of violence against women, to female genital mutilation, to few women in high positions, there are countless violations of equality. In the same second that the Tunisian government is writing gender equality into its constitution, the Ugandan government is banning the miniskirt, and the Kenyan government is deciding actually, yeah, polygyny's fine! Should a husband have to ask their current wife before they get a second one like they always have? Nah.
Oh yeah, and the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia receiving disproportionate amounts of congratulation on his 'championing of women's rights'. We all know that's another story (oil and arse-licking - so much potential, so little realised), but man, is it a real knife-twister. Basic human rights or oil? Ooh, OIL, yummy! Cheers, guys.
If you're not a feminist, then you're quite happy with these things, right? And no, developed world dwellers, you're not exempt from worrying about it, it happens here too. Take a stroll down to your local newsagents and and glance at those charming red tops, or type 'porn' into google (imaginative), or just watch MTV for seventeen seconds. Make a quick count of how many women you see naked and writhing, and how many men. Then flick through some prominent campaigns like UN Women's HeForShe, or Laura Bates' Everyday Sexism, or Lucy Holmes' No More Page 3, and think about these feminists. Do you see the lazy stereotype of the raging, unreasonable woman, ranting on because, well, she's probably on her period, right? Or do you see some very smart, articulate, active people, thoughtfully voicing reasons for concern about current culture?
The thing is, in this day and age, across the developed world, and increasingly, across the developing world, we're all feminists. Because we believe men and woman are equal. Is that a better phrase - 'men and women are equal'? Sometimes it seems to be simply the wording that stops people realising they are actually wholeheartedly in agreement with feminism. The word 'feminism' seems to unsettle so many people because they hysterically believe (while, incidentally, accusing feminists of such hysteria) it means women want to TAKE OVER THE WORLD. That we want to force all men into Pamplona's Running of The Bulls, ride the bulls ourselves, impale all the participants, and emerge red-faced and raging in victory because WE DON'T NEED MEN IN THE WORLD.
Well, massive surprise, this is nonsense. None of this is about saying 'it's our turn now', or 'men are useless'. It's about saying that for far, far too long (in fact, forever), women have been handed the end of the stick that's got a bit of poop on it. And no, we're not going to grab the clean end and give men the pooey end. We're going to give everyone clean sticks. Because it's better that way.
So anyone finding themselves spewing forth that 'Goodness me no I'm not a feminist', because they heard someone on the bus say that their friend's second cousin's pet fish (who does identify as a feminist) saying slightly angrily that she wished she could spend a bit more time hanging out in the little red castle just past the seaweed like her fishy friend Pete does - and they don't want to be associated with such unreasonable rage - just think a bit harder. Go a bit deeper. Would you so quickly say 'I don't think this minority deserves equality', or 'I don't think everyone has the same right to education'? Because saying 'I'm not a feminist' means you're saying 'I don't think women should be considered equal to men'. That girls shouldn't be educated as boys are. That women should be paid less for the same role. That they should continue to be objectified throughout the western media. That female genital mutilation should continue.
If you think the term 'feminist' is loaded, which is the misapprehension a lot of people seem to labour squirmingly beneath, then please just have a quick fag (don't), or a drink (if it's late enough in the day), or a cup of tea (preferably), and realise the only thing you are nodding your affirmation to when you cite your feminist leanings is that women and men are equal. That they deserve equal rights. That they both can, and should, be offered the same opportunities as one another. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it. Oh, that's not severe enough a thing to warrant that phrase? Didn't think so.Suggest a correction