Written by Isabelle Tyner
It saddens me deeply that someone would not openly call themself a feminist. I want to rant and rave about why they should. But then I remember I was once like them. And the reason I’m so passionate now is because I found my own journey through education and experience which made me realise how exciting and fulfilling it was to be a feminist, and I want others to find that peace within them instead of being lectured.
Why did I have second thoughts about openly saying ‘IM A FEMINIST’?
1) I didn’t have enough knowledge about why I should call myself that.
2) I thought it would invite mockery, especially from men.
3) I felt embarrassed
4) I thought people would call me a man-hater
5) I didn’t have enough facts and figures to back up women’s issues
6) I didn’t see enough evidence first hand, from the privileged life I lead.
And probably 100 other deeper reasons.
But what I want to encourage through this blog, is to invite feminism into your life with open arms, because all you’re doing is fighting a battle for men, who don’t want to include us as equals.
The thing is, for so long I didn’t see anything wrong with my life as a woman. I used to say ‘I think feminism is important, but probably only in 3rd world countries, we have equality in England’. Oh, poor, naïve Izzie. It has been shocking, but refreshing, to break down the things I do and am expected to do, that were so internalised. I never saw how unfair it was. UNTIL NOW! Please read on and take a peep into why you should realise that calling yourself a feminist is necessary for everyone.
One of the main points that is important to consider is, the patriarchy doesn’t just make women victims, but men too. It is easy to get carried away with frustration, saying ‘men are trash’ and certain approaches haven’t helped the reputation of feminist being man-hating. But this is not what it is about. Gay men, black men, transgender men and many other male minorities need feminism. Deborah Frances White summed this up wonderfully, by describing that black men will serve longer in jail than a white woman in parts of America. Or that a black man is less likely to get a job than a white man with a criminal record. Gay men have to watch where they can travel to for safety reasons. Women are the priority on a sinking ship, along with children, while men have to wait for their fate. Male suicide rates are higher than women’s. Feminism has become more than just getting justice for women related issues. It is about taking down the patriarchy.
Amongst an endless list of issues that women are battling e.g. period poverty, pro-choice, rape, exploitation, objectification and so on, there are many internalised feminist issues you don’t notice. Look at the beauty industry, telling women to hate our bodies. Look at political leaders. Look at the lack of female comedians. Look at the words we use every day as insults relating to women. Look at music lyrics. Do I need to say more?
Let’s take one of these aspects. Comedians. A very sad and common thought is ‘Well, women are just less funny?’ OH. I didn’t realise there was a biological gene that made men funny and women unfunny… In fact, what this really means is that comedy isn’t a world in which women are welcomed. Why? Because men are used to being heard, listened to and respected, and women are not. It means out of a room of 100 comedians, the minority will be women. Which results in less ‘choice’ of women comedians. It isn’t that women aren’t as funny. They just aren’t encouraged to go into that industry. A woman who is 10 times funnier than a man will feel inferior to get up on stage, whilst someone half as talented will confidently ramble on for an extra 20 minutes over their time slot. We’ve only had the vote for 100 years. How are we expected to catch up in every sector?
The same with beauty. It isn’t that white middle-class men don’t feel a pressure to look good, or be well shaven. I’m sure many do. But they aren’t constantly fed movies and adverts telling them to look a certain way. They are the stars of the Hollywood films, whilst BAME, disabled and non-cis gendered women are underrepresented, being told to be white, slim, cis-gendered and non-disabled.
I really hope you welcome the F word into your lives in your own time. Please don’t hesitate to discuss this with me on social media! Here are some Instagram accounts and books you need, if I still haven’t convinced you:
Women Don’t Owe You Pretty by Florence Given
The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances White
Bloody Brilliant Women by Cathy Newman