First rule of feminism: admit you’re not perfect.
I’m not perfect; in fact I’m unashamedly far from it. I have white privilege that I’m acutely aware of; but that being said, I can only ever comment on what I’ve experienced myself, and I don’t think that makes my opinion any less valuable. We need to accept the fact that to be constantly ‘politically correct’ actually detracts from the real issue: men and women face discrimination purely due to their sex. We all make sweeping statements we later regret, the important thing is that when we do, we admit them, address them and learn from them.
I think both women and men are intimidated by feminism. It seems intangible, intellectual and distant, with our image of the ‘feminist police’ spreading misinformation. Feminism should be a grassroots effort that aims to empower both men and women, through small and big actions. It’s all about options, opening doors, not closing them.
The agenda of this post is not to make you feel ashamed about your personal preferences, but show you what feminism can do for you. I wear makeup; perhaps the feminist portrayed by society would tell me I was only wearing it to please men. Perhaps, but maybe I have made the choice to wear it because it’s fun.
Bear that in mind as I rant. I’m a very diplomatic person, but quite frankly, as a capable, young female in British society, I’m fed up of watering down my opinions about equality. Society tells us there is a time and place for ranting, that we shouldn’t make people feel too uncomfortable. Well, I disagree. I’m not willing to accept institutionalised sexism as my lot.
The more I have gone clubbing, the more irate I have become. If you know me, you know I’m assertive, but not everyone has that confidence. People misread body language, I get that, but surely you should speak to me before you touch me. If in doubt, just ask. Personally, I don’t accept the offer of people buying me drinks as I feel it leaves me vulnerable to misinformed expectations, another can of worms in itself (date rape is a real thing).
In all honesty, drunken men sincerely piss me off. The filter that perhaps was there with sobriety disappears, but dear readers; drunkenness is no excuse (even for Brock Turner).
Guys, I’m not trying to shame you, I know you’re not all guilty of sexual assault and abuse. But it’s scary being cornered by men on nightclub dance floors, grabbed in the street and have jeering voices shout as you walk by. I think the Margaret Atwood quote “Men are afraid that women will laugh at them. Women are afraid that men will kill them” is quite apt here. I absolutely hate the fact that I feel vulnerable walking down a street when it’s dark; I feel exposed when I get all dressed up and worry about unwanted attention and where it will lead. Women are far from incapable, but the constructs of society have meant that we can be put in dangerous situations, through no fault of our own. Help us out if we need it. In spite of this I’m also a huge believer of female empowerment through self-defence classes and martial arts; I take my hat off to the likes of Emma Watson and Gigi Hadid who have shown women that you don’t always need a man to ‘save you’.
One thing I know many of you are guilty of, myself included, is derogatory language. Try and find an insult for a woman that doesn’t relate to genitalia. I can think of plenty. Now try and think of that for a (white) man. Meant light-heartedly or not, don’t joke about it. Don’t slander women for their sexual activity; we’re not objects. You’re not turning any of us on over here with your lad ‘banter’.
That banter only lowers body confidence. I’ve seen so many friends and clients struggle with self-esteem and I think part of that comes from the problem of porn and unrealistic expectations of sex. Education is key: most people don’t even realise they are doing something wrong because when the only sex-education you have are misogynistic videos and a couple of embarrassed parents, how would you?
I was talking to a friend about this and we concluded that society tells us sexually, women need to please men more than the opposite. On the flipside, why should men feel pressurised into being the instigator? Men have nerves.
People, we need to talk about sex!! How can we expect beliefs to change if it’s all hush hush. The secretive environment of sex is (quite literally) a breeding ground for sexual abuse, harassment and misinformation.
I’m lucky enough to be in a relationship that has a dialogue about sex, bodies and expectations. But most people aren’t and perhaps don’t even realise it. It’s okay to experiment and know what you want; you shouldn’t be ashamed by it. It’s okay to have no, few or many sexual partners. You decide if and where you shave; do it for you and only if it makes you happy. If you want to show off your boobs, go for it, boobs are great. But don’t feel you are inadequate for covering up.
If you find me intimidating or ‘an uber feminist’ then you’ve not grasped the point of this post. In reality I’m an incredibly approachable person, just fed up of the crap I have to put up with because I’m a girl. A real woman makes decisions for herself, knowing she has the right to her own body and to use it and abuse it as she wishes. She doesn’t demean the issues that face men, just as a real man doesn’t belittle what feminism stands for. It’s all about respect and having an open dialogue.
If you disagree, let me know in a diplomatic way, why. I’m more than happy to have a conversation; you never know, I might learn something.
***Post script. Since I wrote this I’ve learned of the horrific abduction and rape of a schoolgirl in Oxford. I’m utterly disgusted and disturbed by this. This is the awful reality of what we face.
Who doesn’t love bit of Queen Latifah.