I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but somewhere along the line I became known amongst my friends and acquaintances for being really bloody feminist. It might have something to do with me hopping about and ranting about the patriarchy once an hour, or it could just be that I have 'KILL MEN' tattooed on my knuckles. Either way, it's become welded to my personality like a Germaine Greer-reading limpet.
A regular week for me as someone who is known as being really bloody feminist includes a bunch of guys sending me an array of academic articles about sexual violence and the ethics of pornography, as well as multiple videos of women beating up men or scary spoken word poets ranting about the everyday oppression of their wombs. Both will come prefaced with a statement such as: "Hey, just thought you might be interested in this." Sometimes when I'm feeling a bit devil-may-care, I say "Oh really, why did you think that?" to which I'm always, obviously, met with the reply: "Because you really like feminism don't you?"
Although the former is well-intentioned, I never read the articles as I'm too busy doing my crucial day-to-day feminist activism, such as listening to and live blogging a feminist analysis of Meghan Trainor's album. And whilst the latter doesn't come from a bad place either, it's clear that this feminist aspect of my personality has become a shorthand way of saying 'lol Jessie you bloody massive feminist you hate men don't you lol you joker lol what you like LOL FEMINISM.'
I'm proud to be known for my feminist browbeating, but I can't help but feel like at some point my feminism became a bit of a joke. It's become such a routine part of my daily interactions that I sometimes want to apologise, as if it's some sort of ungainly personality tic. As the next facepalming patriarchal blunder laces its way through my Twitter feed and I involuntarily - because I really can't help it - voice my disdain, I sense the internal, and sometimes external, eye rolling of those who think 'but WHY OH WHY do you have to keep getting so annoyed?' But that feeling of mild discomfort only lingers momentarily before subsiding into the next shower of chirpy but firm feminist polemic. And I'll tell you why.
I have strong feminist views simply because I don't understand why, in 2015, when you can do things like print out a spare pair of kidneys, or have your Amazon delivery float through the sky into your lap, women still aren't equal in our society. That doesn't seem particularly quirky to me, it just seems logical. Being a woman myself, surrounded by lots of other women on a daily basis, I think women are quite good, so I don't understand why they still get shouted at in the street for owning breasts, or why revenge porn is actually a real thing, or how FGM still keeps happening, or why one in four women experience domestic violence, or why there are only 148 female MPs compared to 502 male MPs. It all just seems quite strange doesn't it? There are people planning holidays to Mars, and yet a woman still can't nourish her child via her bosom whilst in a public place without someone from Claridges plonking a napkin over her nip naps.
I've been called naïve and I've been called strident, I've been called aggressive and narrow-minded, I've been told to shut the fuck up and I've been laughed at - generally these people don't understand why I would bother getting so worked up about feminism. Generally, these people have penises.
I can roll with your banter about my hairy vagina and the seven decapitated male heads I keep in my fridge because I can laugh at myself and I don't mind you laughing at me. But don't laugh at feminism, because the patriarchy really is no laughing matter. And for that reason, the hourly sermons against sexism, discrimination and inequality are just going to have to continue, until everyone cuts it out.