Feminism

I really want to write something profound in the introduction to this piece.  I also wanted to call it something witty (but as we all know, that would involve me stealing Tom’s words).  We know Tom isn’t a grunting Neanderthal, so when a post on feminism dropped into my inbox I knew it would be good.  

What I wasn’t expecting was this.  This post is thoughtful, yes, and well-argued, yes.  But at its core it asks some deeply uncomfortable questions,about the nature of feminism, about what  it means to be a feminist, about gender imbalance, about whether feminism has a place in this imbalance.  It’s smart and it’s challenging and it encapsulates why I’m so proud of this blog.  I cannot wait to see what you all think.

Thanks Tom.  Over to you:     

I am a feminist.
I suppose I have always known this, but reading How to be a Woman (on our honeymoon, which, on reflection, is probably the best possible time for any man to read that wonderful book) really brought it to the front of my mind; I started thinking about what modern feminism is, where it is, who it affects, and I started to get quite angry. Because I started to realise that a lot of people – most people – have started to think of feminism as something that happened to their parents, a historical movement that did what it set out to do and then sort of… dissolved. We laugh now at those bigoted, misogynistic men who populated the offices and homes of the 1950s, the last of which now reside in nursing homes up and down the country, and we think that because their views have become so unpalatable to society at large that feminism has won, that any problems with gender equality that remain will be simple to iron out, will just go away on their own. But feminism hasn’t won, and it is still a long way from doing so, so why do people so often refer to it in the past tense?
Before I continue, I should say that I am not writing this simply as some sort of Caitlin Moran fanatic. While I loved her book, I didn’t agree with parts of it (particularly the chapter about weddings), and I think other parts weren’t given enough space. But it was a catalyst; it made me think, seriously, about the nature of sexism in society and what is being done about it.
I finished reading the book ready to fight the good fight and declare proudly that I am a feminist. I felt, in particular, that she had reclaimed the very word itself, that men would no longer be able to sneer at it or treat it with ridicule. I had always assumed that the reason women felt reluctant to identify themselves as feminist was because they didn’t want to attract this kind of negative male attention (but then I’m a man so I suppose it’s typical of me to take such a man-centric view isn’t it?). Then I had a conversation with my female colleagues over lunch one day, and the scales fell from my eyes – these women didn’t call themselves feminists, not because they secretly wanted to but were afraid other people would judge them for it, but because they were the ones judging people for being feminist. A brief summary of the conversation:
Me: (continuing from a conversation about children’s clothes) You know I saw a four year old wearing a T-shirt the other day that said ‘Future footballer’s wife’. *With heavy sarcasm* Thanks you over 100 years of feminism.
Colleague #1: Oh, here he goes again.
Me: What?
Colleague #2: With your feminism.
Me: What do you mean with my feminism? Don’t you consider yourself a feminist?
Colleague #2: No! Of course not! That was all about burning bras and not shaving your armpits and hating men. I don’t hate men.
Me: But that’s not what modern feminism is about! It means wanting equality for women, not inequality for men!
Colleague #1: What a load of rubbish! I mean, of course I want gender equality, but I’m not a feminist. To be honest I find it a bit insulting that you’re trying to tell me I am one.
Colleague #2: Yes, don’t you think it’s a bit sexist of you?
Me: No! I just think it’s important to have a word that describes the point of the movement. Women are still the oppressed half of the population so it makes sense to call it feminism – there’s no better word!
Colleague #1: Oh stop being ridiculous – I’m a woman and I think I know what I’m talking about when it comes to gender issues.
Colleague #2: Yeah Tom, just give it up will you?
Me: *explodes*
In reality there were four colleagues, all shouting at me, and it went on a bit longer than this because I did not, in actual fact, explode. But this was the genuine gist of the conversation – four women, all of whom saying they were insulted to be called feminists, having a go at me for trying to stand up for the rights of their gender. I was genuinely gob-smacked. I am usually quite good at arguing my point but in this case I had to give up because I had been so utterly unprepared for this reaction. I tried all the tools in my box, but in the end they were all able to dismiss me because I AM NOT A WOMAN. This made me unbelievably angry, but then I calmed down and actually had a think about it, and I figured that this scenario actually says a lot about the state of modern feminism, and the huge problems it faces.
Of my four female colleagues, I think the reasons for their allergy to the word ‘feminism’ can be categorised as follows::
1. Feminism means crazy women from the 60s with waist-long armpit hair burning their bras and hating men. A lot. I do not wish to be associated with these women, so I am not a feminist.
2. The word ‘feminism’ makes me think that it is necessary for women to band together to fight for their rights. To me this implies that women are weak and need help, which I find patronising; therefore, I do not consider myself a feminist.
3. I have never really thought about this before, but I’m going to stick with the girls on the basis that they must be right because they are, you know, female.
4. Gender equality has pretty much been achieved, so I don’t think feminism is necessary any more, and in fact I think that to stick up for women’s rights specifically seems anti-masculist. I am therefore not a feminist.
I should add that all of my colleagues are highly educated, with a total of 4 BScs, 4MScs and a PhD between them. So they are not stupid, and I wouldn’t call them naive either. But there is something very wrong with the above four points of view, and I have been trying to work out exactly what.
The answer to point one is obvious – read more about feminism and you will rapidly come to the realisation that all kinds of people (including men!) describe themselves as feminist and this view is simply outdated and, in fact, was never even true in the first place. Similarly, point three is a matter of making feminism more of a general discussion topic, so that people can come to their own conclusions about it, not just follow the herd.
Point four is a bit harder, but I would argue that it is still very obvious that gender equality is not here yet. But this requires people to actually think about what they mean when they say ‘equality’ – one of the above-mentioned colleagues actually thinks that the proportion of women in medical jobs is just a fair reflection of the fact that ‘men are just better at certain jobs than women’ and that ‘those jobs don’t accommodate family life very well, so you can’t be surprised that not that many women do them’.* Men and women are certainly different, and it is unlikely that there will ever be an exact one-to-one gender ratio in any organisation, but to assume that the status quo is OK because all it’s doing is reflecting these basic differences is very dangerous, sloppy thinking. This is an area about which I think people need to be asking a lot more questions.

But point two is the one I really struggle with. On the one hand I’m all like ‘yeah, good for you, you’re a strong woman and proud of it’, but on the other I want to shake them really, really hard. There is still so much sexism in our society, but it is no longer the kind that you can immediately point at and shout ‘ohmygodtheressomesexismrightthere’. Instead, you will only realise later, upon reflection, that, yep, there was some serious discrimination going on there. Or, if you’re like me, at the time you’ll be filled with a feeling of discomfort that you can’t quite manage to attribute to anything in particular. It may now be societally unacceptable to say that you think women are inferior to men, but that does not mean that people have stopped thinking it, or acting upon that belief (although they have to be a lot more sneaky than they used to).
Even if you don’t think women are inferior (hopefully most people!), you can still unconsciously discriminate against someone despite believing that discrimination is wrong. This is because we do not think, thoroughly, about every interaction that takes place in our lives – this would be ridiculously impractical, so we rely instead on ‘autopilot’. What our autopilot tells us to do in particular situations depends on a number of factors, including our upbringing and, crucially, what is ‘normal’ in our society. If it is normal in your society, for example, for blondes to be seen as a bit dim, it can take a huge mental effort to avoid this ridiculous stereotyping, despite the fact that you know it’s degrading and potentially very offensive. I suppose what I’m driving at is that it’s possible for the majority of men to consciously have a lot of respect for women, whilst at the same time unconsciously being sexist and discriminatory in their everyday interactions with them, because societal norms have yet to adapt. This is a theory I have literally just come up with, so do please feel free to shoot it down. What I’m really aiming for is an explanation of why this insidious sexism still exists, because I find it very puzzling and maddening.
Anyway, whatever the reason for sexism happening in the first place, it does happen, and a lot of people do it without realising or wanting to. It’s for this reason that feminism is still important; people need to be going around, pointing out sexism and its consequences, because it is only by doing so that ‘normal’ will ever come to equal ‘fair’. Obvious sexism may have disappeared to a large extent, and that was a great achievement of feminism, but this new, sneaky sexism has to be addressed, and arguably the need for a big, bold, strident feminism has never been greater.
The reason I started writing this post was that I found it profoundly odd to have had an argument with a group of women where I was arguing for feminism and they against it; it was not a situation I had ever thought possible, but I find the reasons for it fascinating and worrying in equal measure. But that’s enough of my babble – what do you think? Is there anyone out there who can give me some good reasons not to regard yourself as a feminist? Do you think feminism is over? What do we do about the ‘new’ sexism? Thoughts please…
*It was at this point that I exploded for a second time.
Categories: Our Favourite Posts, Politics and Feminism, Your Favourite Posts
26 interesting thoughts on this

23 Comments

  1. Susie
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    Yes, I agree, I agree! I know that most (/all) of my friends believe in all of this, but none of them would use the word 'feminist' because there's too much stigma attached to it. But what's even more tragic is the way girls are pandering to sexism themselves by accepting and playing a part in and even actively encouraging the new 'raunch culture'. (Female Chauvinist Pigs, Ariel Levy – read it). Apparently now it's 'empowering' to take off our clothes in strip clubs? No no no.

    But that thing about the medics? It's true, completely true. I've always wanted to be a surgeon, but truthfully it isn't possible for me to be both a good surgeon and the kind of mother I want to be, who can be at home for those first few years and later on is actually around for her children. These jobs really aren't suited for a family life. Which is awful, and unacceptable, and thankfully changing – but changing very slowly.

    I'm hopeful that when my children choose a career, they can do so completely unfettered by what effect, if any, it might have on their desire to be parents.

  2. Posted February 8, 2012 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    Well thankyou very chuffing much Tom, I have a 3pm deadline and now I am going to be spending all morning on this post, reading the comments.

    I have so much to say, I can't fit it into this box.

    First thing is – YES *waves Vote For Tom flag* I completely agree, and I also realise that unless people have sat down and thought it out for themselves, or have been given the Moran book, they are still going to have that outdated view of feminism. And that's still 99% of the population unfortunately. It is an uphill battle.

    As with racism, this sort of discrimination becomes covert after a while, and a lot of people think it no longer requires our attention, but it EFFING DOES *angry face* possibly even more so than before.

    I have so much to say.

    I will say this instead. Yesterday I saw my friend link to this poster on Facebook, and say how at last we have rules on assault that can be adhered to and may actually result in people NOT GETTING RAPED. Some d*ck**d on her friend's list had commented (with no irony) "I can't be bothered to read all that, but I imagine it's another insinuation that all men are rapists"

    OH MY GOD WHERE DO I START. This is somebody who my very clever friend is friends with, not some random Daily Fail reader.

    Px

  3. Zan
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Oh wow. Thank you Tom (yet another 'Vote for Tom' flag being waved here). This is a very very good post and everyone should read it.

    I really really wish we did have actual gender equality in all forms, but it's so sadly not the case and I have witnessed the more insidious under the radar sexism more times than I thought possible. I'm very much a feminist and proud to be so. And as I always say, if the men were having the babies…well the world would be run very differently!

    Also – LOVE How to be a Woman… have read it 4 times now. Each time I find something new to laugh/rage about.

  4. Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    Yes Tom!! Thank you!!

    I agree with you that point 2 is the one which is hardest to fight against. The thing I find tough is that the sentiment behind point two is "I'm not affected, so I'm not going to care about it". It's great that there are loads of women who are able to live EXACTLY the lives they want (and a lot of that is due to some bra-burners back in the 60s), but there are tonnes of women for whom sexism rears it's head daily, often impacting their home or work environment. This doesn't mean these women are any less strong or independent, but rather that they might be facing larger battles or hurdles.

    I'm a feminist – not for my own sake, as I'm lucky to have not experienced any significant sexism (clearly there have been stupid bigoted comments, but nothing which has impacted my job or home life or happiness) – but simply because our world country/society/world has not yet embraced equality.

  5. Posted February 8, 2012 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    When Tom sent me this post, I couldn't contain my excitement. It's exactly, exactly, the sort of post that epitomises what this site is about – uncomfortable questions, important topics, divergant viewpoints.

    Twitter has gone mad discussing this post, poor Tom has been subjected to a conversation on the merits of bras.

    I consider myself a feminist. I work in the public sector where I suspect there's much less sexism than other places, but it's still so apparent, so embedded. For example, yes we have a Home Secretary and a female Permanent Secretary at the Home Office, but what does the media coverage focus on? That the HS got her stiletto heel caught in a crack in the pavement on her way to the House. Not her brain, her opinions, but her attire.

    Susie – I've added Female Chauvinist Pigs to the AOW Book Store…and am looking forward to reading it!

  6. Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:01 am | Permalink

    Just a brilliant post, Tom, thank you. I genuinely wanted to cheer on the tube this morning when I read this. If I'd had a flag I would have waved it joyously.

    I think the most dangerous perception of feminism, aside from point 2, is that it is synonymous with misandry. This means that men are often defensive about it, and a lot of women feel they can't identify with it because they so clearly don't hate men. I don't hate men, I like them just as much as I like women, really. But I am a feminist. Above all I believe in equality.

    The other perception problem I think we have with feminism that you didn't mention is this idea that feminists HAVE to act a certain way. Feminism is for everyone, not just the ambitious or career-driven women but the stay at home parents, the glamour models and the strippers too. I was recently accused of being anti-feminist and oppressed for making dinner every night at the moment (because G is working 12+ hour days and I am not). This is the kind of thing that makes it hard to identify with feminism, when some people try use it to make you feel guilty for being a considerate (and hungry!) person.

    K x

  7. Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for an insightful male opinion Tom. Firstly I'm so happy that you can call yourself a feminist. I (a feminist) welcome men in feminism! It's refreshing for a man to be able to call himself this, especially when so many men (and women!) have trouble doing so.

    If I'm honest when I see educated women feel there is not a need for feminism it either 1) upsets me or 2) makes me exasperated, because lets face it, the facts of why it's needed are plain for anyone to see.

    When I can't convince 'my kind' there is little hope for me to convince men. This poses a bit of a problem really as ultimately feminism needs men just as much as it needs women to fight the good fight, because feminism is as much about changing men's attitudes, beliefs and gender roles as it is women's (in fact, it's almost certainly a necessary condition of ending gender oppression). Men and women have to change their behavior and opinions for equality to work.

    On to my actual point(!)the most common argument I hear about not calling yourself a feminist is as your point out reason 4 "Gender equality has pretty much been achieved" – ekk! I think this is a main danger for feminism and why people do not see feminism as ‘attractive’ as they no longer believe there is a need for it as we’ve reached an equal society. We’ve got to the stage where lap dancing clubs and lads mags have been the norm for so long that the majority of us do not question the implications. There is also the argument that "It is much better for women than it ever was." This gives some people no impetus to change things and identify themselves as a feminist.

    The only way I can see to combat this is full, frank and funny education and debates. Always the eternal optimist, I hope by being equipped with knowledge we can in some ways get through and make people think about it. I'd love it if we encouraged people to think about feminism from a young age, in the home and by campaigning to ensure that gender studies, feminism and the feminist movement were taught as a compulsorily in something like the PSE subject in schools.

    Both my parents taught me I could do the hell what I liked careers wise and I was equal to men. It's therefore not surprising I can call myself a feminist as it's never been a dirty word. Hurrah for them!

  8. Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:33 am | Permalink

    So we are launching a AOW party and tom is running for pm at the next election right? *starts making peach rosettes*

    I genuinely only realised I was a feminist a couple of years ago. This seems crazy to me now but it wasn't something I fully understood I guess. It's definitely the fact there are places like this on the tinterweb that's helping more and more people recognize and embrace their feminism.

  9. Tom
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    Susie – I am getting that book! Totally agree with you about the medics – I think it was the assumption that being a doctor, by definition, doesn't fit in with family life, that really got to me. We should be asking why you can't be a good mother and a surgeon and not just assuming, like my colleague, that the way things are is fine.

    Penny – sorry about the deadline… That story about the poster is another excellent argument for strident feminism to exist! That guy is a fool – talk about missing the point!

    Zan – I fear reading that book to many times lest I become too strident – or is that impossible?

    Fiona – can you come and talk to my colleagues please?! That is exactly what I was attempting to say!

    Anna – I am trying to get vole boobs out of my minds eye, currently, unfortunately, with little success. That aside, I'm with you on the press coverage. I often find myself defending public figures who I actually disagree with politically, simply because people are attacking them for their appearance/sex/walking-ability and not their actual policies. Drives me mad it does!

    Katielase – hit the nail on the head there. Misandry is a great word! Nay, perfect in this case. Those people who accuse of being anti-feminist for making dinner have missed the point entirely – it's about letting women choose for themselves, and letting them decide what works best for them and MAKES THEM HAPPY. Feminism is about giving women the choice, not dictating what that choice should be.

  10. Tom
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 11:47 am | Permalink

    Miss Spangle – Perhaps you can come along with Fiona to talk to my colleagues? Equality issues should definitely be part of the curriculum – someone should start a petition.

    The more I think about it, the more it seems like the most obvious policy change the government could make to accelerate gender equality would be to grant men and women equal parental leave. Why this is not a massive issue currently I have no idea…

  11. Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

    Miss Spangle – the lap dancing clubs and lads mags are apparently PROOF we're in an equal society – Page 3 girls are role models, remember…

  12. Posted February 8, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    @Fiona – I know! And we wonder why feminism has gone tits up.

  13. Lexie
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Ooo good debate! I have way too many thoughts I'd like to put across, but I'll stick to one that just came up.
    Now I'm not a huge fan of lads mags and the like, but I'm almost inclined to think that women's magazines are worse. Very thin women wearing next to nothing, airbrushed to within an inch of their lives, while on the next page is an article similar to this one. Hmmm. Is it any wonder feminism has become a confused term?

  14. Zan
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Tom – don't think it's possible to become too strident about this issue to be honest! Everytime I re-read the book, it makes me think about something new or a little differently. And that's certainly not a bad thing!

    This is a fantastic discussion and there's so much I could say. I think one thing that's always stuck out for me is tied in the perception that we 'already have' gender equality. There are many many countries where women are clearly considered second-class citizens and to a certain extent I think we have a duty to be role models for these women and continue to fight for true equality.

    I worked in a country like this for a while and the fact that as a young women I was able do things such as live alone, travel abroad alone, not be married before a certain age and have some simple basic choices that we all take for granted was always greeted with amazement and surprise. These are things that should be automatic rights for all women everywhere. I know you can't change the world in a day, but I feel I should do my bit and being a feminist is part of that.

  15. Posted February 8, 2012 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Tom, FANTASTIC post!

    Last week, Susan G Komen for the Cure, the largest Breast Cancer organisation in the US, pulled its funding from Planned Parenthood. Yes, Planned Parenthood provide abortions, but the majority of their services are non-abortion related and include a breast-cancer screening program funded by Komen.

    The backlash was amazing. Donations came pouring in to PP (including a substantial sum from New York's Republican Mayor) and Komen subsequently backtracked and announced they would continue to fund PP (at least for the next year). I was seriously pumped! So many women and men were outraged by the Komen attack on women (and predominately poorer women; it was great to see such unity.

    But this week brings its own battle. President Obama has said he wants to make birth control affordable. He wants employers to cover birth control in their health insurance plans. The Catholic lobby strongly oppose this. They say the law shouldn't require them to act against their conscience. The Republican Presidential candidates agree. They promise it wouldn't happen under their watch, that they would ban or limit abortion; they talk on the campaign trail of "real rape".

    Sorry, that turned into a "my week as a woman in America" rant, but I didn't realise how important it was to be a loud and proud feminist until I moved here. I didn't realise the fragility of most of the rights I enjoy as a women. It's 2012 and contraception is back on the agenda?!

  16. Becca
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Permalink

    I've had to wait to write this. Having rather a lot to say and no time to say it in. Firstly, I also love Tom. I loved Tom before (cue meeting Esme and squealing "where is Tom" in the same way I got all giddy meeting Aisling's legs and (allededly) knocked people's drinks flying). But now I love Tom more.

    Sometimes I think The Boy is more of a feminist than me. I did my dissertation on prostitution and pornography (I can photocopy it and you can put it in the AOW bookshop if you like?). For me its about CHOICE. CHOICE to consider yourself a feminist. CHOICE to walk on by. CHOICE CHOICE CHOICE. I can't scream it enough. For him though its more deep rooted. He has a real sense of injustice in all walks of life, including feminism.

    So what about when both of us interlink? I ALWAYS thought he'd ask my Dad's permission and I'd never thought of it as a feminist issue. However, despite The Boy and my Dad having a serious conversation about his marrying me and "his intentions" I suppose, The Boy expressly said that he wouldn't be asking permission because I wasn't anyone's property and he was asking me. The notion of tradition didn't come into it for him and he considered it part of the general problem of people saying they are feminists and then craving traditional patriarchal ideas.

    In relation to Tom's points I work in a (relatively) male dominated area of law and in my previous job spent substantial amounts of time banging my head against a glass ceiling and almost de-feminisising myself to "fit in" with older male clients because I didn't want a job based on my arse. I heard too many comments about one particular junior who had a skirt sprayed to her arse to go down THAT route. So clearly, nothing is resolved. I guess I almost went "a bit mad feminist" to make my point. Here its more accepting and there are more high powered driven women. Which is inspirational.

    I guess both of these points prove that gender issues have been resolved as well as I can resist chocolate (i.e. not). Is me saying I like chocolate conforming to the sterotype of women? Am I downgrading women too much? – I think there is a fine line between being a feminist and being JUST a feminist where normality flies out the window. It takes me back to point one in some ways. I consider myself a feminist but I want to be walked down the aisle, asked for permission to marry and make general comments about women and shoes, chocolate and wine. I guess I CHOOSE what parts of feminism I agree with. Which is wrong in itself isn't it? Isn't feminism all or nothing?

    Tom…help?

  17. Posted February 8, 2012 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

    Becca, feminism is about wanting equal social, political and economic rights for women. Yes, it's become associated with behaving a certain a way, dressing a certain way, valuing certain things above others, but the core principle is equality! If you believe women deserve the same rights as men, you are a feminist, it matters not a jot whether you like chocolate and diamonds or wear make up and shave your legs. It doesn't matter if you like the tradition of your father walking you down the aisle or you take your husband's last name. It just matters that you want equality!

  18. Tom
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Permalink

    Becca – um, what Catherine said.

    But seriously, it's a difficult issue because there is this confusion between what we are brought up to desire and what is desirable to achieve gender equality. I think as long as you've thought about what equality for women means, and how your personal desires fit in with this, then there is less chance of conflict. Personally, I can't see any conflict with the things you're describing – you have thought about the reasons why you want some of the traditions of marriage, not just accepted them because they're the status quo, so I reckon you're all good. Yes, feminism is all or nothing because it is, as Catherine says, simply the belief that women should have equal rights and choices. I think what you're choosing to disagree with are parts of the stereotype of what a feminist is, not feminism itself.

  19. Posted February 8, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Coming in on a tangent here…

    We – and society – just seem to accept that televised, popular sport is played by men. Ok there are some exceptions. But football? Completely male dominated. Is this ok? Should we be cultivating better women's sport teams, or are they good enough already but due to sexism are not televised on mainstream channels?

    The other thing I find hard to accept is in employment- the differences in pay based on gender. It still exists. FFS.

    My 26 year old friend who had a baby last year has just made a very difficult decision- to NOT go back to work. Now I know we discussed this issue recently but I feel it's relevant in that extreme traditional feminist views (ie. NOT Moran) can backfire and actually make people miserable and feel worthless. Her pregnancy was an accident and came at a very successful time in her career. The pressure from many sides for her to go back to work (parents, employers etc) is quite overwhelming. Her boyfriend hasnt given up work, why should she? Some people won't understand her choice and will make her feel that being a stay at home Mum is not the true feminist thing to do.

    But as we all know, feminism is about having that choice!

    Fxx

  20. Jenny Lane
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 9:43 pm | Permalink

    This article is amazing. Yay Tom, you are awesome.

  21. Anonymous
    Posted February 8, 2012 at 10:55 pm | Permalink

    it needs a new name. starting with fem suggests female and gender equality is about both male and female. things like paternity leave and stuff: don't really think of that as feminism, but its important.

  22. Cupkate
    Posted February 9, 2012 at 12:09 am | Permalink

    A great post! Many ways to debate this but my thoughts are that the only way that feminism – to my meaning being equality and having choice in all social and cultural aspects – is going to prevail successfully is through education. And by that I don’t only mean education in current ideologies across the world , but particularly the reintroduction of history as a subject in schools.

    I believe history should be rejuvenated in schools as the study of society, rather than the current, awful and tragic view as a series of dull dates and names and battles to be learned by rote. That was not the history education I received although for many it was, and now it’s hardly offered as a subject in many schools.

    How can anyone compare successfully, recognise, and be taught to think of the deeper mechanisms of our societies flawed structures if they have nothing to compare them to ?

    A fundamental study from a young age of how things “were” to how they are “now” in a wide reaching study of society’s actions, should equip us to at least not have that laisses faire attitude to so many of societies injustices, and over time slowly win the war against ignorance and apathy.

  23. Anonymous
    Posted February 10, 2012 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Great post Tom! (get me a flag!)

    Just the other week I was told by M's Granny that she "didn't like feminists as they had made nothing but trouble for themselves."

    Coming from the matriarch of the family, who was one of the first ever women to go to University and train in her profession during the war, who tells proud tales of what women did in the war, who has encouraged her daughter and grand-daughter to strive for everything they want and not settle……she 'doesn't like' feminists.

    Where to start with this? It's dreadful that people want to distance themselves from feminism. The job's not done, the fight's not over. The recent exposure and coverage of the vile and heinous UniLadMag website/ twitter feed is horrendous proof that we need feminism more than ever. The fear around the F word needs to be dispelled, otherwise we'll find ourselves reeling backwards in some dreadful dumb collusion, and risking losing our already few and hard-won victories.

    ps Ariel Levy book is brilliant.

    Rach Mx

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    [...] we know you love a post from a man here on AOW, so we have a treat for you today. Matt has ever so kindly written (really, really well) about his [...]

  • By The Girl Effect on July 26, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    [...] worldwide were given the support and choices that they deserve. We’ve talked in the past about feminism being something that both women AND men should be interested in, and this is a perfect example of why. Whilst women are still treated as second-class citizens, [...]

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About

Hello! We're Clare, Aisling and Anna and welcome to a corner of the world where smart, flawed, real women talk about the bigger picture; about their experiences, stories and opinions on all aspects of being a woman today, from marriage to feminism to pretty, too.

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image by Lucy Stendall Photography

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