Good grief, I’ve had so many arguments with people about this. The other day, I realised that perhaps it would be helpful for people visiting my blog to, before they started reading my reviews about how feminist various films were, have the opportunity to read a simple and concise explanation of what the word feminism means.
Quite simply, feminism means believing that everyone of every gender- men, women, and others of non-binary or self-defined genders, should have equality. And not just by law: yes, I know women can now fight in the front line in wars and enter the Olympics. The reason I’m saying equality instead of equal rights is that while men and women (and everyone else of other genders) may have equal rights most of the time, they certainly don’t have anything even close to equality. Women are still objectified and abused in their personal life, in the media and in advertising. There is still a massive gender pay gap. Women still get such bad harassment online and in the street that they often have to delete their social media accounts and feel they must always be on the alert to possible danger when on their own in public. Every childless female celebrity is constantly asked, “When are you going to have children?” and the media speculates perpetually over whether she’s gained weight- does it mean she’s pregnant??? There are 650 seats in the house of the commons, and only 208 are occupied by women- and that’s just the UK. Basically, feminism is the belief that all that rubbish has to stop right now- and a feminist is a person who believes in that basic gender equality.
So that’s what feminism is. What is it not? Let’s destroy a few dumb stereotypes. Quite simply, feminism is not the same as any of these:
- Wanting women to rule the world
- Burning items of underclothing to emphasize your commitment to the women’s equality movement
- Being a woman.
Of course, this is not to say that you cannot be a feminist and also a lesbian, a witch, a man-hater, want women to rule the world, a bra-burner, or a woman. All those things are (relatively) compatible with feminism. I, for instance, do not hate men. I’m just going to put that out there. I really don’t hate men. As for witchcraft, though, that’s kind of a different conversation*.
Oh, and did you catch that just there? Yes, I did just say that you don’t have to be a woman to be a feminist. Because not only can anyone of any gender be a feminist, we all should.
That’s just the simple stuff. For more information about feminism, I refer you to the last chapter of Laura Bates’s brilliant and hilarious book Girl Up, aptly entitled “The F-Word.” And that is, obviously, not a joke.
*I’m worried this guide to feminism is getting dangerously long, but a word on witches: many centuries ago, they were basically the nurses and midwives of many societies. It was SISTERHOOD and they looked after women properly because they didn’t think all women were, by their very nature, evil. And guess what? The patriarchy burned them and drowned them for it. Damn you, patriarchy.