THE BLOG

Why Is It So Hard for the Prime Minister to Call Himself a Feminist?

27/10/2014 16:10 GMT | Updated 27/12/2014 10:59 GMT

When I was 17, I was studying a piece of literature about suffragettes and women's rights. During the lesson my teacher asked if anyone in the room was a feminist. Everyone shuffled around, nervously looking to see if anyone would raise their hand. No-one did.

She then went on to question us about why we felt that way and all the answers we gave were half-formed ideas and misconceptions about what the f-word means. "All it means is for men and women to be equal. That's it," she explained.

Since then, I have happily admitted to people that I am the feminist because of one simple reason. Why should I be paid less, have less chance of career progression and be seen in society as an object just because I have a uterus and breasts? The answer is that I shouldn't.

So when Elle broke the news that David Cameron had refused to wear a t-shirt with the slogan 'This is what a feminist looks like' for their November issue, I realised it isn't a 17-year-old girl that needs convincing what it means to be a feminist, it's the men in our lives.

The UN's #HeForShe campaign has proven wildly popular and it's something that needs to continue with momentum. If it doesn't, then it's like getting to the 25th mile of a marathon and calling it quits. It should be that we are pushing even harder for that extra mile to try and complete what we started more than 100 years ago.

So I was bitterly disappointed to see that David Cameron wasn't willing to give his support by wearing a t-shirt. When he explained to Elle why he didn't wear the top, the Prime Minister gave an answer that sounded like it had come straight from the dictionary definition of the word. He said: "Whether you are a man or a woman, I passionately believe that everyone has a part to play in achieving full equality for women and girls."

If he did truly believe that, then surely he would be willing to identify as a feminist. By not doing so - on five different occasions - it's hard not to question why he isn't willing to commit to a cause by being photographed in a t-shirt. Or by refusing to say outright he is a feminist like with Red magazine around a year ago.

I've been lucky to have been brought up in a world where women have more rights than they once did. It also means I have been brought up in a world where I've never come across a 'bra burner' or otherwise. These connotations are outdated and ridiculous, but being a feminist is not.

The system isn't yet perfect and there is always more that can be done. Once we have reached true equality, then women's magazines will stop asking the Prime Minister to wear t-shirts to try and publicise the cause. But until then, I'll be wearing one on his behalf.