Dear Women who don’t call themselves feminists,
I used to be one of you. In fact I only started calling myself a feminist in the last two years. I “came out” as a feminist right here, and here, here and erm finally here on this very blog. In fact I had to break this blog out from its rather extended hiatus (sorry I’ve been terrifyingly busy but will update more in the new year) just to write this post.
So there has been a bit of an upset about Mumsnet Blogfest and reactions to a panel including two real life friends of mine @Glosswitch & @SarahDitum who have written simply incredible responses here and here. I’m not going to ramble on about that so much as I wasn’t there (but have watched the videos) and it all seems to have been woefully misconstrued by people with their own issues, and hats off to Glosswitch and Sarah who have handled it beautifully. Me I would have been weeping in the corner at all the unnecessary vitriol directed at me but then I’m always someone who likes things happy and easy and just wants everyone to like me……….
…….which is probably
almost definitely why I never called myself a feminist until recently.
Feminism is hard work and once your eyes are opened to it, and I mean truly opened, to the extent of male violence and all the inequalities that women and girls will face just for being female, then erm its hard and its scary. Its terrifying to challenge things, to be that difficult person at playgroup or school trying to explain why X Y or Z actually isn’t okay.
I’ll hold my hands up and say I was blinkered. I didn’t want to hear, I didn’t want to see, I didn’t want to know. I didn’t want it to make me angry or sad.
Back then I didn’t think my gender had affected me from achieving anything. Basically I was being selfish, “women’s issues” hadn’t really affected me, so I didn’t care, but then I started to think, think about my body image, gender roles in marriage, sex, makeup, abortion consent and my daughters growing up loads and loads of other stuff, and I finally truly really got it.
I had my lightbulb moment.
I even used to get upset at women who got angry at women who didn’t want to call themselves feminists. I didn’t call myself a feminist, and how dare anyone judge me for that?
But now I understand, & now I have come full circle. I have read a lot of responses to this event with women declaring themselves not to be feminists, and showing a woeful misunderstanding of some of the issues at stake, and I want to tear the blinkers from their eyes (in a gentle non-angry way obviously!) and make them see, make them understand, make them listen. I get why women were angry at me not calling myself a feminist. I am angry at the old me too.
That isn’t to say that it is okay to be verbally abusive at someone because they hold different opinions to you, because it most definitely isn’t. What I am asking is for you to think about it. Think about why feminism exists and what it means and what it needs, think about how your gender will have affected your life, really think deep down why you don’t want to call yourself a feminist. (Glosswitch once pointed out to me that some women might not call themselves feminists so they don’t appear threatening to men and that resonated with me. Maybe it will with you too. Why do women always need to be liked, to seek approval, to not shout, to not be aggressive…..?)
All I am asking is for you to just think*
Lots of Thinking Love
*P.S With an added caveat about ”and not responding aggressively to the person just asking you to think.”
*ducks back down below the parapet*.