If you missed – or ignored – the recent bout of, ‘I’m not a feminist, I like looking pretty and having men hold doors open for me’ versus ‘you empty-headed idiot, someone died so you could have the vote,’ I’m about to give you two good reasons to pay attention.
Women Against Feminism is a gallery of pictures of women, mostly young, holding banners beginning, ‘I don’t need feminism because’.
I was disappointed, but not surprised, by much of what I saw, Then I read this:
‘The wage gap is a result of choice not sexism’
Even then, I was ready to sigh and move on, when, on the same banner, I spied this:
‘men get raped just as much as women’
Those are reasons she doesn’t need feminism?
I believe in the principle of human rights. I am, ipso facto, a feminist. So is anyone, male or female, who believes that human beings have inalienable rights (and responsibilities, if they live in society). Because women are not treated equally with men.
And I mean equally while allowing for our differences, not, exactly the same as, if not better, because we deserve it.
Most banners led with ‘I’m not a feminist because …’.
I’d be more inclined to ask whether ‘we’ need feminism, myself. But let’s run let’s with that egocentric approach and see where it takes one female – me, for example.
In one sense, I don’t need feminism. I understand how discrimination works against me even if I can’t change it on my own. I have a reasonable brain, a lot of experience – I can work with it, skirt (sorry) around it if necessary.
I can, if I wish, join unions or other organisations that will work for my right not to endure discrimination.
But there are battles I can’t win alone.
Pay, for example.
Women do not choose to earn less than men. The system is still, after years of trades unions (and feminists) going out to bat for us, biased.
Take the UK:
In 2013, the median pay for a woman was 19.7% less than the median for a man. The average hourly wage for women was £10.33 while men were paid £12.97.
Guardian, 13 August 2014
This article followed the revelation that of 200 companies which signed up merely to PUBLISH data on pay differences by gender, only four had done so.
‘men get raped just as much as women’
I interpreted that to mean ‘as often as’, though you could read it as ‘the same unwanted penetration is forced on the victim’. But let’s go where my interpretation took me.
Men are raped, but nowhere near ‘as much’ as women.
It’s hard to be accurate, even here in Britain, because there are different ways of recording the statistics.
The Crime Survey for England and Wales 2013 figures – which differ from numbers of crimes reported to/recorded by the police – suggest there were around
85,000 female and 12,000 male rapes in the previous 12 months
Now, these may not be entirely accurate, but the fact that knowledgeable people have taken an educated stab at it and arrived at such figures is utterly shocking.
And, before you yelp, I’m not condoning a ‘we’re raped more than you are’ numbers game. As someone who’s twice been at the mercy of male strangers and saved by (a) a nice couple walking a dog, (b) a London taxi driver, I’m aware that sexual assault is no gaming matter.
Men rape men. But they more commonly – much more commonly, rape women. Full stop.
Some men – and women – blame raped women for being provocative, think females should wear conservative clothing – even long black robes and veils – to avoid exciting men.
Every man should respect every person’s right not to be treated as a vehicle for his penis if she or he doesn’t want to be (and, yes, that’s a whole other matter).
These issues are ones on which all feminists would surely agree. But aren’t they ones on which all rational human beings would agree?
I can understand why a comfortable young woman might feel she doesn’t ‘need’ feminism. She has shiny skin, a good job, she can vote (or choose not to), takes holidays,dee- dah-dee-dah-dee-daaaah.
One day she may discover that a man she manages earns more than she does.
One day she might want maternity leave – for her partner, too – so her baby has the best start in life.
One day she might discover a child down the road has been dragged off to some ancestral home and had her sexual organs seriously mutilated – and she might think that’s not acceptable.
One day she might find out how many baby girls are murdered in India because their parents want boys.
One day, she may visit a country where she can’t drive, walk down the street, or go to the doctor alone – because she’s female. Where she has to cover her hair or face prison and 90 lashes of a whip. Where she might be killed as an adultress if she’s raped by a married man.
Late, but better than never, she might find feminism is not such a dirty word. Because it has nothing to do with burning bras or hating men, it has everything to do with striving for fairness, human dignity and rights.
But why concentrate on females? Discrimination happens on all sorts of fronts, why pick women?
Because half (or more) of the world’s population is female. If we can’t get it right for half, how do we expect minorities to fare?
Feminism is – was – a good thing, but thanks to some extremists and some ignoramuses, that’s not how it feels any more. So, perhaps we should change the word?
Me, I believe in fairism. I want fairness for everyone – though I know life’s not.
But it doesn’t feel like a rallying cry, does it?
What do we want? Fairness. When do we want it? Soon as possible please.
So, what’s to be done about that word, ‘feminism’?
Answers on a banner, in a selfie, anyone?