I was shocked recently to hear about one of the female members of my local political party (of which I am a member) suggest that only women should be allowed to vote for their women’s officer. Err what?! How can we possibly be asking for equality and excluding men from the conversation? Luckily her suggestion wasn’t taken on but I was surprised that it was even made in the first place from a woman who is so politically active.
I tried to understand her point ‘men don’t understand women’s issues so how can they vote for a women’s officer?’. Whilst I almost understand where she was coming from, to me it seems like such a dated idea. No, men may not always get it, let’s face it they can be pretty clueless sometimes, but surely that doesn’t mean we should exclude them completely? In fact it should be the opposite. It is our responsibility as women to engage men in the conversation, to welcome them into the fold and truly fight for equality together.
The title of ‘feminist’ to me is no longer one that is reserved for women. It is not just up to women to demand equality, although historically we’ve done a good job of it alone, 21st century feminism to me means equality. It means all of us recognising gender inequality where we see it and speaking up about it. When I started drafting this post I had planned to write about how working in the charity sector, a female dominated industry, has meant that I have in many ways been protected from inequality in pay and opportunities. However, yesterday I read an article published quoting results from a survey conducted by fundraising recruitment consultants which found that even though women outnumber men in the industry 7 to 3 we are still paid on average 17% less in 2017/18. I had been lulled into a false sense of security working in a female led industry but it turns out there is still work to be done everywhere- even in the places you least expect.
I feel more and more responsible for understanding feminism enough to get involved with the conversation. I have been immersing myself more in talks, writing and books about feminism, most recently reading and listening to what Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has to say on the topic. I strongly recommend you check out either her writing or her TED talk as it really resonated with me (I’ve included some links at the end of this post).
I still feel that feminism carries with it a connotation of being a man-bashing hippy, proven by the abuse Emma Watson received after doing a photo shoot showing a bit of underboob. ‘How could she possibly be a feminist whilst showing off her body?’ Err, that’s exactly the point trashy media journo- being a feminist is empowerment and choice and if she wants to show off a bit of underboob then all power to her, it doesn’t change her right to equality with the rest of us.
Like Chimamanda & Emma I’m proud to be a high heel, make up wearing, man-fan feminist. Those things are just me and I’m allowed to be me whilst championing women’s rights and equality. The same goes for all of us, that’s what feminism means to me, being inclusive and equal regardless of gender, what you like to wear, who you like to hang out with, where you come from or how much underboob you fancy showing off, you do you girls and boys.
In Chimamanda’s words ‘we should all be feminists’ and I couldn’t agree more.
I’d love to know your thoughts and opinions on the topic and if you have any recommended feminist reading or watching then please share!
If I’ve inspired you to find out more here are some links to books & talks by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: