I think the question of “am I a feminist?” is something which crosses every female’s mind once you reach a certain age. There is a time when you start to encounter the dreaded, loaded word… “sexism”. The staring up and down in the street by men, the wolf whistling. All your male friends being shocked when you like rugby. Being felt up in clubs, despite not being that provocative. Yet, what do I do about this? Awkwardly… nothing. I joined a feminist society at my university and every once in a while I might, perhaps, remark upon a sexist advert or reprimand someone for taking some banter a bit far.
So admittedly, I am a pretty poor feminist. Not exactly proactive: no picketing or protesting. No strong and opinionated angry posts on the feminist society Facebook page, raging about the state of society today. Despite, internally in my head, thinking that, you know, some things are pretty unfair. Thinking, “why does this fellow on the street seem it adequate to shout things at me because I’m wearing a short skirt? That seems silly”. Thinking that maybe I am at a disadvantage and that it doesn’t seem quite right that just because I have a vagina, I’m probably not going to get the same kind of pay or recognition as my penis wielding counterparts. However, is just thinking this enough? Does thinking this make me a feminist? Am I a feminist if I find this advert entertaining?
Well, luckily my answer is at hand. And through the wonder woman, the steely tongue of wit, that is Caitlin Moran in her awe inspiring, eye opening and, most importantly, HILARIOUS book: “How to be a Woman”. If you haven’t flicked through it, I strongly urge you to do so. There are several questions which are miraculously answered:
1) You can find things funny! Feminists are not all the uptight, angry, shrew-like caricatures portrayed in modern society. Humour is humour, things that are funny are just funny…
2) It is actually okay to just state the fact that sometimes (only sometimes mind you) men are generally better at things. They’ve had many thousands of years of practice at hammering things and fixing things and navigating things. So you’re not NOT being a feminist if you think that you can’t fix the broken button on the oven. That little blighter is darn fiddly. If you’re not hardwired that way, it’s just a fact.
3) The best thing is not to deem something sexist, but simply ask yourself, “hold your horses, that actually wasn’t very polite”. Politeness and courtesy is just the basic form of communication between people. And rudeness in any form, be it sexist, is easier to pull up as rudeness than anything else. A staunch misogynist can’t really argue with rudeness. But might argue sexism…
4) But it is also okay to have a cheeky bitch about other girls. You’re not breaking the solidarity of female-dom. You’re only remarking about how that really is a heinous skirt that should be cremated. It’s an opinion and a remark, not an assault on that person’s validity in the world. We can make similar remarks about our own wardrobe after all… There’s bitching and then there’s being malicious.
5) Feminism is a bit silly really because although in our current state of affairs, it is fundamentally necessary, there shouldn’t be a fight for equality. We are all human beings, and it would be a lot nicer if we all just deemed each other as so .
I suppose what I’ve concluded is that I am, indeed, a feminist. I believe that every individual on this earth has equal validity and equal standing. I’m a human being. That man over there, he’s a human being too. So, we are both human beings. And that’s that. Rudeness is not tolerated by me, so therefore neither is sexism. Yup, feminist good and proper… and there was I thinking I was a useless female shaming my own kind.