Nicky On Why Feminism is Still DislikedWritten by The Young Women's Movement
On the 21st January 2017, millions of women around the world marched against Donald Trump for equality and to raise their voices alongside their friends, families, and communities to make history. Despite this wave of protest for women’s rights across the globe what followed was classic anti-feminist rhetoric online and the stigma associated with women’s rights is still very much alive and well.
Apparently, ‘women already have equal rights’, mhmmmm
I am sure you can picture my face when someone pipes up with this star of a line at the pub. Usually this is said to try my patience as a loud and proud feminist, but unbelievably some people think woman already have equal rights!
The main problem I have with this argument is that the individual making the point is not thinking about intersectionality. Those arguing that women already have rights or have already achieved equality need to realise that not every woman is white, middle class, cis-gendered and able-bodied. An argument from this perspective is not a true discussion of gender equality, different women experience oppression in varying degrees of intensity and patterns.
It really is the perfect example of ignorance is bliss, if they have not experienced it then it is not a problem. Check your privilege at the door because the truth remains that you do not need to look too far to see that equality has not been reached.
Men are still making decisions about women’s reproductive rights (US Government’s attack on Planned Parenthood and abortion, anyone?); women’s sexual histories are still brought into the court room to attest to the character of the woman; breastfeeding in public is still considered socially unacceptable (although society does not mind a nipple or two on other occasions); there is a lack of equal representation on public and private boards and in many governments around the world ;and of course there is the pay gap. Equal pay for equal work is not just about the money, if women are being so dramatic then don’t be a baby about paying us. Cough up!
And these are just examples off the top of my head…
Feminism is too angry
I became aware that I was a feminist when a friend helped me understand the cause and lead me to my “feminist awakening”. On 21 January, my heart grew three times bigger watching millions march for women’s rights. For me, feminism comes with a tremendous amount of self-belief that is so empowering. Unfortunately, what soon follows the booster shot of empowerment is a big viscous spoonful of being shut down, questioning our need for equality and lots of trolls. So many trolls…
Of course we are angry! Protest and urgency seem like the appropriate response to violence and oppression, but we are not angry with men, we are angry that we are still treated like second- class citizens in so many ways. We are upset that after many years of fighting for equality, there are still societal constraints on women’s rights.
There is a still a stigma of the angry, bra-burning, old feminist when the term is mentioned and apparently we still have a lot of work to do to fight that stigma. All we want is understanding, not ignorance.
Feminism is not cool
Unless you count putting a giant sign saying Feminist behind Beyoncé, feminism is not exactly seen as cool. Celebrities like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift might be a way to give the movement attention but it does not really represent what millions of women around the world are fighting for.
To me, respecting the rights of yourself and others is one of the coolest things you can do. If doing so does not make me cool then sorry, I’m not sorry AND you should not be either.
Feminism started because you did not have a choice. And now you do. Say thank you, but don’t say you don’t need it.
Nicky Jackson is one of our fantastic blogging network members. Nicky is a health and life sciences student at Glasgow Caledonian University and a feminist activist. She loves the community spirit brought with feminism, and with the little free time she has she enjoys watching Game of Thrones, listening to AC/DC and watching cute animal videos. Tweet her at @njacks200.