Celebrated world-wide, International Women’s Day celebrates respect, appreciation and love towards women’s economic, political, and social achievements. This year’s theme is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up For Gender Equality”. (See, I told you it was the year of the feminist!).
It is 2016 and women everywhere are still being discriminated against and not treated like equals. A century after the suffragettes fought for our right to vote and still women are behind men in too many ways. It’s tiring to constantly hear and read that women continue to be treated as objects and subjects less deserving than men. All over the planet, in first, second and third world countries, women still don’t have equal status to men- neither legally nor socially. Whilst there’s no justification for this, it has been happening since the dawn of time and shows no immediate plan to halt. Women are fighting for their rights every single day- this is why we need Feminism. Contrary to ridiculous but popular belief, feminism isn’t the act of hating a man. It isn’t a group of women clubbing together to burn their bras and boycott shaving- it’s both women and men standing for equality between the sexes.
Thanks to Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989, I identify as an Intersectional Feminist. In simpler terms, certain groups of women have a variety of facets in life that they have to deal with. Feminism will never be one-size-fits-all. Until the mainstream feminist movement starts listening to the various groups of women within it, then it will continue to stand still without hope of moving forward. While this concept has been around longer than I have, only recently has it been brought to light and thrown into feminism debate.
You wouldn’t believe me if I told you the amount of hate messages and mail I receive shaming me as a feminist and telling me I couldn’t possibly believe in woman’s rights. Apparently, because I am not only sexually active, but also a ‘slut’, I’ve subconsciously given up my right to be a feminist. Who’d have thought! Engaging in something personally enjoyable has left me unable to stand up for women, who are all doing exactly the same thing! Give me a fucking break. If anything, this has only enhanced my right to call myself a feminist. I’ve been on the receiving end of a harsh tongue and I’ve been slut shamed for most of my young adult life. Even before I lost my virginity, people had branded me with derogatory names. Slut shaming is a huge problem in the 21st century, and it’s baffling how many men (and shit loads of women) think it’s acceptable to call others out on their private decisions. Each and every person on this earth should have the right to do what (and who) they please without being criticized for their actions or behaviour.
I’m a feminist, regardless of whether I engage in sex, think about sex and write about sex- as I do for a living. I’ve been anonymously told, through my blog, that I couldn’t be a feminist because I was part of the problem. Apparently, writing about sex forbids me from wanting equality, and the two can’t just go hand in hand. Enlighten me, then, as to why it’s generally accepted for a man to talk about sex and openly discuss his sexual conquests yet when I, a woman, do so- it’s regarded as slutty, uncouth and unacceptable.
So does it mean I’m not a real feminist because I make my boyfriend breakfast on the occasion, clean up after us and host dinner parties in a 1950’s housewife style? No, does it fuck. Gender Essentialism (the assumption that women and men and inherently different and should be treated accordingly by society) is not feminist. What makes a girl, a girl? Is it an apron? A brood of well-behaved children? An immaculate home? And what makes a man? A wife? Some days I wake up and want to stay at home, waiting for my boyfriend’s return from work and bake tiny yet delicious pies in between hoovering and dusting the home and some days I wake up and have the urge to ship myself to the USA and chain myself to the front gates of abortion clinics and fight for women’s rights. By making my boyfriend a sandwich or doing something he’s asked me to do, I’m not conforming to the housewife stereotypical standard and I’m absolutely not any less of a feminist.
Ostensibly, I’m not a real feminist because I shave my legs, care for my appearance and wear make-up. Do you think it’s ever occurred to people that women don’t dress for men? I do not shave my legs, wear make-up and brush my hair every morning to submit to the aesthetic standards of the male gaze. I spend my mornings preening myself for me, and that’s all. I am the most confident woman I know and making myself feel glamorous and highlighting my assets enhances that confidence- something I think that all women need to learn to do. And there’s no greater feeling than freshly shaved legs on clean sheets, sliding around like a carefree dolphin. Ask my boyfriend- for weeks he’s been suggesting I book myself in for a Hollywood wax and my reaction is the same time and time again- No. Because I simply don’t want to. I’d rather look down at my nether region and be reminded that I am a woman rather than a little girl. Plus, I’m growing quite fond of how fluffy, soft and comforting it is. If anything, my deciding where and when I wish to shave is a feminist act within itself, as I’m choosing to do what makes me comfortable and I am not letting anyone else make decisions regarding my body for me. I am exercising my right to choose and standing by what I want.
I can’t be a feminist because I post nearly-nude selfies on Instagram, right? Because, God forbid I feel comfortable with my body and confident enough to show it off… All in all, it’s probably about time to stop categorising feminism and accept all things Intersectional- don’t you think?
We really need to start empowering one another- it’s a long time coming. I can tell you from years of valuable experience that the only way woman can win, is to stop tearing each other down and start building each other up. Strong women would struggle to be as strong without the support of their sisters. Our culture pits women against each other- we aren’t programmed to be sugar, spice and all things nice to all other women, but we need to be. You’ve all seen Mean Girls; I’m sure, so why hasn’t everyone taken Ms Norbury’s statement “You all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores” on board? This ‘girl world’ isn’t scary- we just need to eliminate the feelings of hatred, jealousy and bitchiness towards our fellow females that are polluting our chance to group together. It’s foolish for me to imagine that there will ever be a time, in the near future at least, where all women love and appreciate one another like they should. Someone will always push against the grain and hate. Regardless of the exceptions, we need to start working as one in order to obtain the equality we all deserve.