15/04/2013 14:02 BST | Updated 15/06/2013 06:12 BST

What Being a Feminist Actually Means


I can't believe that when I used to hear the word "feminist" in my teens, I used to think I'd have to get hold of a fleece and dangly earrings to 'join'. That was because I was an ignorant teenager from a small town, but also I love fleeces and I am always looking for an excuse to get a new one (I don't like dangly earrings. They chafe the skin tags on my neck). Now I'm a bit older, I'm proud to call myself a feminist - and to take action too, because sticks and stones may break the bones of misogyny, but words will never hurt it.

As a working comic you often get asked to do charity gigs, and sometimes it's easy to say yes or no depending on what gig you're already doing that night. Sometimes I just have "Gig - charity - one of the good ones" written in my diary. Or "gig - charity - foxes". Then I get to the gig and pray it's not pro-hunting or pro-eating foxes or pro-encouraging foxes to steal a hunk of cheddar from the doorstep of my London flat last year when our fridge broke and I put a bowl of food outside to keep it cold (the butter and Stilton were rejected). Luckily the gig was anti-hunting, and there was free cheese. Swings and roundabouts.

So now I take a bit more care in what I take on, and that ties in with me applying my commitment to feminism to everyday life. I find it easier to storytell about myself and other people in my writing - in my radio show, each episode is a love story about a different person I've known - I've never shown much aptitude for topical stuff (as demonstrated in 2003 with my short-lived, "Hey guys, imagine if the Big Brother house was full of paedos and people who worked for BAE Systems and, um, they all, like, ate each other..." routine); or for stuff I feel angry about. Unlike Bridget Christie, who's just done an excellent BBC Radio 4 series on feminism. For me, it's about taking action against sexism in any way that feels natural.

Now I do charity gigs for charities I feel more strongly about, not just because I think I should say yes, and I've got one coming up for War on Want which I wanted to mention because it tackles the hardships women face everyday. The show's happening on 1 May, International Workers' Day, and War on Want began in 1951, the year the UN agency the International Labour Organisation adopted the equal remuneration convention, aimed at equal pay for equal value work by men and women. And War on Want is still fighting austerity policies hitting women the hardest in rich countries such as Britain, as well as the developing world.

Feminism isn't about thinking we're better than men, it's about little things we can do to catch sexism off guard. It's really easy to laugh along with someone who tries to make us, as women, feel like we're not up to the job or that we should just giggle and try to look nice. But why, why, why should we? It's so boring and tedious and lame to do that! It's like there being a roast in the oven about to be ready and we go and eat some crisps off the dirty floor, just cos it's easier! (Not that there's anything inherently wrong with eating crisps off the floor in circumstances outside this food-based metaphor). It's harder not to go along with those supposedly light hearted comments, but it's ultimately so much more rewarding not to.

Isy Suttie can been seen at the War on Want Comedy Gig on May 1st at the O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire with other performances from Sara Pascoe. Marcus Brigstocke, Imran Yusuf, Marcel Lucont, Alistair Barrie, John Moloney, Paul Sinha and Paul Thorne. All proceeds go directly to the charity's campaigns against poverty. Tickets are available here.