Here’s something I hate: people talking about femininity as if it equates with being female.
And here’s another thing I hate: the Tumblr page called Women Against Feminism.
Some sample pics:
In fact, I’m filled with such loathing for both these things that I’m going to depart from my usual blog topics – writing my novel and whinging about my personal life – to share with the world wide web (or at least the 0.0000000000000001% of it that reads this blog) a few of my own opinions.
One opinion I’d like to state very strongly is this: I believe femininity is a social construct (so, too, of course is masculinity). As such, femininity is unconnected to the double X chromosome. Washing your husband’s underpants or hoovering under the sofa are activities unconnected to your biological designation as female. Doing these things – willingly or otherwise – does not make you a woman. Fair enough if that’s what you choose to do with your life, but who the hell are you to say it’s ‘womanly’ to do so? Is it less ‘womanly’ to be a brain surgeon, a rocket scientist, a writer? Femininity is a moveable feast, related (much like religion, much like many things) to the culture you’re born into. Men can be feminine, but they cannot be female. Women are female. They can choose to be ‘feminine’ as their culture defines it. Or they can choose not to be.
The site I loathe so much describes itself as women against feminism, but the majority are very young women. Girls, you might even say. And while I applaud them for speaking their mind, for dressing exactly as they choose to, for having a voice – in other words, for exercising all the rights that feminism battled for – I don’t applaud them for their hypocrisy. Apparently it’s not enough to point out that none of these women, or girls, would be allowed to host their own website in a world where feminism had never existed. And apparently it’s not enough to point out that the soldier happily venting her spleen against feminism (in one of the rankest examples of the site’s hypocrisy) would never have been in the bloody military in the first place in their dreamt-of utopia where feminism never was. It’s not enough to mention any of these things, because these anti-feminists have a catch-all argument ready prepared: ‘We’re not bitching about old-style feminism – before you whip out your dictionary definition – we’re bitching about modern feminism.’ Except, actually, quite often they are bitching about feminism, full stop. There’s an unpleasantly conservative and controlling aspect to many of their comments that smacks of the very things second-wave feminists fought for back in the day. Perhaps it is unfair to suggest that a woman whose self-avowed mission in life is to bake apple pie for her husband might possibly, perchance, find fulfilment elsewhere, but today’s 21st-century women have the luxury of choosing that life if they want to.
And, believe it or not – like it or not – that is what feminists fought for. For you – yes, you, Woman Against Feminism, ungrateful as you are – to have that luxury – of CHOOSING to live life on your own bloody terms. It wasn’t men who fought for that, believe me. Men were happy as Larry with the status quo (in the same way it’s rare to find aristocrats championing the working classes). I was born into a religion that had no interest whatsoever in my brain capacity, that denied me the rights men were given so freely, that asked me to quash any dreams or ambitions that didn’t directly relate to procreation – and I want to say this to the growing band of girls and women who’re privileged enough not to understand this: having choices denied you is a horrible thing. Young Women Against Feminism, whenever you set foot in a pub, or a university lecture, or swallow a birth control pill, or sleep – without shame – with a man who isn’t your husband, you have feminism to thank for it. And, whether or not you personally feel you need feminism in your life, there are multitudes of women across the world – even in the Western world, I’m sorry to say, though so many of you dispute it – who do need someone fighting their cause, in their corner, and so, so, so often those people fighting their cause are feminists.
Perhaps as you age, as you’re rapidly sidelined by a society that still places so much emphasis on women as objects – that still defines them by their looks, their clothes, their sexual choices – you’ll grow to understand that many of the men who’re listening to you now are listening for reasons unconnected to your intellectual capabilities. What’s that, Daily Mail? New women in the Downing Street cabinet? Who gives a toss about their policies… what are they wearing?
And why is J.K. Rowling so called on the cover of every Harry Potter novel, as opposed to Joanne Rowling? The answer, anti-feminists, is because she was told that revealing herself as a female would result in fewer boys buying her books. And as for ‘Magaluf Girl‘, as the great Bill Hicks once said (on the subject of women in porn – but that‘s a different story entirely): ‘Are the men exalted?’ Those twenty-four guys who were happy to drop their trousers have disappeared into the media ether, while everyone’s scorn is reserved for the female involved.
Here are some of the choicest quotes from Women Against Feminism:
‘Feminists are jealous of other women who receive more male attention than them.’ (Yes, because feminists are madly keen on sexual objectification.)
‘I’m starting to think that feminists actually worship men.’ (No point even attempting to refute this one.)
‘Feminists think all men are rich white males.’ (Because clearly no feminist has ever taken issue with women’s depiction as sluts and ‘ho’s in hip hop culture.)
‘Feminism means always being unhappy.’ (Yup, that‘s what it means.)
‘I don’t need feminism because I don’t want my daughters growing up around slutty feminists!’ (And I need feminism because I don’t want my daughter growing up in a world with double standards. And stop, please, before you tell me you call men sluts as well. You don’t.)
‘I don’t need feminism because I can think for myself.’ (Well, Einstein, that’s precisely why we needed feminism in the first place: because women were told they couldn’t think for themselves.)
So it’s come full circle, in that women are fighting to deprive themselves of the very rights they once fought for. I’m torn between anger and sadness. Personally I couldn’t stand to have a partner whose only desire in life was to look after me, whether as housewife or breadwinner. I want someone undefined – un-oppressed – by society’s idea of acceptable norms. I drive a car, I’m writing a book, I gave birth out of wedlock, I’ll sleep with a man if I want to, I don’t iron shirts. I’m a feminist. And I’m bloody well proud of it.