I have always considered myself a feminist. I have shrugged off the dated notion that feminists are some sort of crazy radicals and I have never considered feminism a dirty word or a word I want to disassociate from. After all, feminism is the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. As a woman, how can you not campaign for equality between men and women?
Historically, because of pioneering feminists, we as women have the right to choose whether we want to work or stay home. We (in most cases) are entitled to the same wage as men, some women may earn more than their partners. Women can vote because of the tireless suffragette movement. We can dress however we want. We can drive whatever car we want, we can spend our money on what we desire. This is because of the radical women who were not afraid to spark controversy and said it like it was. Thank you Emmeline Pankhurst, Marie Carmichael Stopes, Parvin Ardalan.
Do we still need feminism? Is it a notion still relevant to us? Of course it is, yet feminism in 2016 seems sloppy, lazy, misguided. Frankly, I have found it disappointing and vapid. We as women are not adequately standing up for global issues facing millions of women. Instead western feminism is lot like pop music – a bit shallow. We have forgotten the fact that feminism MUST be a voice for ALL women.
Yes, women should breastfeed in public. Sure, Jennifer Lawrence is pretty cool for not giving a f*** and going against the Hollywood starlet archetype. Yes, women’s sports are underrepresented. No, there aren’t many women in politics. Good for you, for sharing your post-baby body. Yes, runway models are still too thin.
Are these issues relevant and important? Yes. Do we also need to pay attention to inequalities and injustice women endure around the world? ABSOLUTELY. I’m disgusted that the Chris Gayle saga overshadowed and minimized the horrific rape and sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany. The media and feminism paid more attention to a disgusting bigot like Gayle and instead minimized and hid the ordeals of hundreds of women who were groped, stalked and raped by migrant men. In fact, feminists and esteemed women were quick to victim blame, something which is absolutely repulsive. “Rape culture” and “pack mentality” were dismissed as merely cultural differences and some esteemed women were crazy enough to blame conservatives for orchestrating the crimes.
Feminism has come too far. Feminists should not be telling women not to dress provocatively and not walk alone, as stated by the female mayor of Cologne. “There’s always the possibility of keeping a certain distance of more than an arm’s length – that is to say to make sure yourself you don’t look to be too close to people who are not known to you, and to whom you don’t have a trusting relationship,” said Mayor Henriette Reker.
Women shouldn’t be told not to inflame lust. This is not 1940. Why is feminism all of a sudden, afraid to say it like it is? Is it too becoming a victim of political correctness?
Why isn’t pop feminism pushing for awareness on sex tourism, sex trafficking, under-age marriages? Saudi Arabian women were finally given the chance to vote, but they couldn’t even drive themselves to the polling booth. Domestic violence is a leading killer of women. Islamic State holds over 3500 Yazidi sex slaves. Bride burnings and acid attacks are still relevant in rural parts of India. Girls are still being taught that their bodies and menstruation are dirty.
These are harsh and heinous truths, relevant around the world and even home, in Australia. Let’s teach a younger generation of women, something other than overanalyzing their favourite Disney princess? In order for the feminist movement to gain ground and retain some relevance harsh truths must be faced. Having a female celebrity identify herself as a feminist doesn’t mean anything, it is not enough. Feminism must recognise and not minimise all facets of the struggle of women and air some uncomfortable realities.