Sunday, 8 March 2015

The Sunday Natter: International Women's Day - why I believe we need feminism


In honour of International Women's Day, today's post is based around the belief I have that we need to stand on this earth as both men and women and strive to rid of the cruel misogyny of today's society that is creating an imbalance in us, every second of every minute. Just the word feminism gives a reason for debate, and to the extremities I understand why but my view of feminism is simple. It's about embracing the notion of choice, aiming for equality, freedom of choice and fair treatment for everyone. Recognising the importance of equality is a necessity. I believe in the social, economic and political equality of all sexes. I believe in men's rights just as much as women's but as a woman myself, I have first hand experience to feel as though we are marginalised in comparison and as a woman, of course I'm on my own side. The point of feminism is this; having an empowerment of women grouping together gives us the chance and open space to discuss women's common issues and experiences which can often be hidden and de-prioritised from other general life subjects. 

We've most certainly come a long way in terms of how women are portrayed. Comparing today's era and ideas of a woman's potential to one 50 years ago shows that and it's our job to continue to turn around the traditions and patterns that were set in place when women were considered the less adequate gender. Despite the shift in existing structure and values, there are still critical, dangerous issues facing women and girls all over the world which need better awareness. From gender discrimination, sexual assault, abuse and domestic violence, forced marriage and the controlling of women's decisions, to unequal pay, gaps in women leadership roles, and the unavailability of the right to influential education. The many campaigns and the introduction to women pioneers has allowed us to paint a new picture but we are still moving backwards in terms of justice. We need to open our eyes to what is happening, we still have a long way to go and not just from a man's perspective. It is status quo, we can't just blame or generalise men. We need to push ourselves, to teach ourselves, commemorate the power of women, and quit the woman on woman war to save the next generation from carrying these barbaric attitudes. 

Baring all this in mind and aside from the listed above in depth topics that require much more extensive conversation, I wanted to share the 10 reasons I believe in everyday feminism and how the expectations and stereotypes of women really do affect us.

I believe, because...

- We, as women, should not be in fear of walking down the street because we do not wish to be harassed. | We live in a world where we feel intimidated just going about our weekly lives because shouting, wolf whistling, and inconsiderate gestures has somehow become an acceptable movement. This weekend, my 17 year old brother stressed to my mum and I that he does not want us to go to his friends 18th party because of all the rude comments and disregarding opinions that will follow from his teenage friends. He was genuinely disgusted by what goes on when a woman who has made an effort to look nice shows up to a nearly all male event. He stated he does not want his mum and his sister to be looked at in that way and he can't bear to stand it. That is not the sort of world I want to live in.

- We as women, almost always get portrayed of having a man to back us up. | Is it really that hard to believe that women have just as many aspirations and goals as men do? My independence is something that needs to be accepted as part of me. I will speak up if I am offended, I will stand up for myself, I will make my own decisions and go ahead even if you disagree, I will buy things with my own money without having to ask a man for permission and I will work hard in keeping myself and my personal aims satisfied. Society keeps trying to tape women off as sex objects, gold-diggers and the all round weaker gender who are only seen as stuck up if they put themselves first, but we can't let them win. 

- We as women, have to cope with the media picking out appearance before accomplishments. | How many headlines have you seen that rank the subject of the title in order of exterior to interior? There's so many you can't even count them, right? 


Notice the fact this triumphant lady is downgraded and her success is left until the end just because she is attractive and engaged to an A-list celebrity male. 

This one is god awful, the lowest of the low. This woman risked her own safety to save the lives of two strangers and all the papers care about is a small show of breast through the difficult but heroic scuffle. 

And it's not just this, it's the highlighting of a woman who is welcoming the outdoors on a casual basis, a woman who believes her everyday regime does not expect to create a pointless story which has no purpose. The media repeatedly make celebrity women conscious of going outside and enjoying some free time and for what, to capture the next ridiculous headline?

Oh, wow. Call the police, Tamara decides to disallow her birth getting in the way of her desire for exercise. She put on some suitable clothing, proceeded with it and will then most likely go home to her baby with loving, open arms. Such harm done. 


 A woman who believes makeup and skimpy garments are not  necessary to how confident she feels, decides to go get a coffee  unaware that it's her priority to dress to impress the paparazzi and to make her outfit fit the 'I must look sexually appealing for such asimple task' rule book. 
How on earth this made the news I do not know. An ordinary woman strolled along her home ground bare faced because shock horror, she felt comfortable in her own skin and fancied a walk in the fresh air. 

The list goes on but hopefully you get my point.


- We as women, are stuck with body parts that are sexualised. | It is proven that people focus on the parts of a woman's body when processing her image and unfortunately, women's bodies are used to sell all sorts of products in separate labels. Let me tell you this, objectification hurts. The latest breast feeding frenzy is solid proof that the way the world see a woman is body first, situation last. With the corrupt footage available in today's day and age, I struggle to see how a natural source of nourishment which provides a beneficial bond between mother and baby is seen as unnecessary. We shouldn't have to hide in a corner just because it might entice a member of public, or most shockingly, offend someone to the point of disgrace. We've reached a point where parts of us which were never even thought upon as being a trigger for sexualisation are occurring; our shoulders, our waists, our lips, our legs. There's a reason I won't go to the gym and that's from the stories I've heard about being almost stalked when working out just because you're wearing a cropped top or sticking out your bum a little. A woman shouldn't have to be cautious and weary of who is watching her and identifying her as a sexual object.

- We as women, get told we have no relevance towards male cliche themes, activities and jobs. | It's hard to curb your tongue when people reckon you have to meet substantial standards to become expert at something that only males are considered to be capable of.

  • Sports. There are hundreds of victorious sports women in the industry so why are young girls still being told they'll never make it? Why are sports advertisements still including men only? Why are sport teams being set up with the intention of having only boys come forward thus discouraging girls? 
  • Driving. Another stupid untrue assumption, 'if you're a woman driver you're a slow, fragile, unsteady driver who doesn't pay attention and holds up traffic'. Actually, I think that's a matter of how skillful you are, how much of a fast learner you are and how careful you wish to be on the road.
  • DIY. Who says a woman can't put furniture together, mow the lawn, paint the walls and pick up a drill with faith? We have the ability and desire to practice and achieve just as much as men do.
  • Jobs. A woman can be a mechanic, a fire officer, in the military etc etc. Try not to be insensitive and illiterate when a woman mentions the fact she's determined to follow her dreams. Let's start putting female scientists, performing artists, athletes, professors, and comedians on magazine covers. Let's teach both girls and boys that smart, determination, creation and wit is equally as compelling.
  • Sex. Men continue to be praised with a good pat on the back when they admit how many women they've slept with. Women so much of even dare experiment with their sexual relations and they are judged to be a slut. As awkward as it may be to talk about, sex is another natural part of life and women are granted just as much enjoyment.
  • Hobbies. I read somewhere that a man claimed a woman hadn't even played a discussed video game, to his foolish surprise it turns out she actually wrote the game. Now, if that isn't an in your face you sexist pig smack down, then I don't know what is. 

- We as women, do not belong in the kitchen. | And it's not a joking matter. It becomes a serious problem when my grandma still thinks it's a woman's job to cook, clean up, take all the wrath for when the household is in turmoil and be in charge of keeping a man happy 24/7. This is a matter that strikes me the most, it's one I believe needs to be dealt with. We are not still living in the 1940's, women go out to work, men stay at home and look after children, both genders cook together and split the chores down the middle. Today's older generation have been brought up in an environment where women are the domestics and a lot of the time, they fail to see that there are bigger mountains to reach. We can't let today's present and on-growing future still surmise the envision that women belong at home, stuck in a rut and a routine that has a negative effect on self-ambition and worth. 

- We as women, get told to cover up in case it distracts and encourages a male. | Imagine a world where we are advised to wear in-provocative clothing because it may have negative effects on a male's behaviour and performance? Well, we already live in it. Telling girls to cover up is teaching them that their bodies are inappropriate, dangerous, violable and subject to constant scrutiny and judgement, including by adults they trust. Young girls will listen and grow up believing it is their responsibility to make sure boys' thoughts remain clean and they are not putting themselves 'out there' for boys to inappropriately pounce. It gives out a complete wrong message, it reinforces bullying and disrespect and it makes it almost normal to publicly shame and expose women. We cannot be seen as the sole reason boys act and visualise like they do. We need to stop victimising women and acting as though they are to blame by their personal choice of clothing, and we need to educate boys, focus on practicality, teach them about valuing women for their character and brains, not just their body. 'All blokes are letches at heart, some hide it better than others. We cannot be taught otherwise. Live with it.' - a genuine quote from a remorseless, and quite clearly deluded man. This sort of outlook is upsetting. Not only does it make us afraid of expressing ourselves, it introduces us to feelings of guilt, and sends out the message that we have to adapt to ill-suited monstrosity because it can't be stopped. Direct contact without consent is not okay. The way we dress makes absolutely no difference to the thought process of a man. Whether you're in a pair of shorts and a vest top, or a jumper and joggers, they've already made up their mind on whether they are going to inappropriately approach you by instinct. I don't know about you but if I ever have have a son, I will bring him up to always be deferential and attentive.

We as women, have to deal with high expectations and constant pressure. | From the day we are born, we are bombarded by designated instructions on how to be a 'proper' woman and before we even get to know ourselves, we are informed of the overall judgement of women. The main invalidity being based around needing to look hot in order to be important, valuable and worth loving, but the stretching of false logic also goes much further than that. We need to be fiercely intelligent and consider hair colour to not be seen as a bimbo, we need to show the right balance of emotion so we're not shallow nor cold, or overly emotional, we have to be careful not to act too confident so we're not classed as pretentious, but then again we can't be too insecure because then we aren't bearable. We can't be innocent because we're pathetic, but we can't be too forward as we're a loud mouth bitch. We can't enjoy a calorie busting meal without us looking greedy on a date, so we have to go the prim and proper way and choose salad. We have to carefully look at our wardrobe choices to make sure we're not named as a prude or a slut, and we have to be the perfect inbetween in weight and height otherwise we're prone to body shaming. We have to stay away from everyone when we're menstruating because we are supposed psychos. Worst of all, we have to pretend we're not single when unwillingly approached because being on the market means we're instantly available to all men and we crave the attention. I'm not saying this happens all the time but it does happen and women are force fed these labels meaning they believe they have to act a certain way to be received in a pleasant manner. Constantly forcing these categorisations upon us are contributing absolutely nothing to the way we view women and it needs to stop, by both men and other women who get a kick out of being hateful. 

We as women, do not need a mans approval and a justification for an act or gesture. | Ever thought the reason we take a good hour or so getting ready for a night out is not to 'ignore the men who take a fancy to us' but for ourselves? Believe it or not, the idea of impressing men is not constantly on our minds 24/7. Our decisions are mainly made with self motivation. There's no rule book stating men are in charge of what we do. We don't need looking after, we don't need to be dragged along as a side order, we appreciate but do not seek a man's favour and we aren't just alive to please a man. We have our own individual preferences, we cut our hair and wear bright lipstick because we want to feel great, be creative, artistic and explore the liberty. A man can have his view but it doesn't automatically make them eligible to tell them what looks good and what they prefer a woman to look like. Promoting the idea that a woman is not allowed to like herself because that makes her cocky and means she has a higher opinion than a man's, is diminishing. Think about this statement 'women are taught to hate themselves if men reject them, and men are taught to hate women if women reject them' and analyse the truth of it. We are taught that men are priority to women's needs and if we don't respond to that, we are the victim on both sides.

We as women, are entitled to making up our minds about what is expected as a woman. | There's so much stigma attached to what is essential for a woman to be classed as respectable and feminal. If you prefer to have short hair and wear track suits instead of having princess hair and a posh dress, that's okay. If you don't want children or do have children and don't want to be just identified as 'the mother of...' that's okay. If you wish to rid of birth control, that's okay. It is not just down to you to be responsible. If you'd much rather stay at home playing video games than spend the day at the mall, that's okay. If you believe casual work is more suitable for you, excluding the idea of the expected high power career in order to provide as a woman, that's okay. What's not okay is telling women how they should live their lives a certain way because of restricted opinions and insular calculations.


I fully admit that a lot of these reasons can be role reversed, vice versa in terms of male vs female. It shouldn't be a competition and it's definitely not a game. The concept of what I spoke about, although less common still occurs in the male population which is why this section is for you:

Men, all over the world, I'm sorry that it's acceptable for you to be publicly ogled with no circumstances or uproar to follow. I'm sorry you get labelled as being 'all the same' a player, ignorant, and self-centred, just because of individual experiences. I'm sorry you get told you're useless at practical tasks women are supposed to take care of. I'm sorry you're just seen as the handy man. I'm sorry you live in worry about expressing your feelings because men aren't supposed to cry. You should, that makes you human. I'm sorry you get called a faggot if you enjoy supposed non-masculine hobbies such as dancing, and I'm sorry people instantly think you are homosexual if you take on a 'woman's job' such as a nanny. I'm sorry to the young boys who get force fed bigotry and prejudice by their parents. It's more than okay to play with dolls, love the colour pink and paint your nails. You don't have to 'stop being a girl' when you're upset and when you take a bad shot in basketball, you are not succumbed to 'throwing like a girl'. Men, I'm sorry women can be demanding. You do not need an expensive car, lots of money, and a package full of Victoria Secret's gifts and balloons, in order to love a woman. I'm sorry you face this sexism daily, I believe as men and women, we both deserve emancipation. 

Fighting for women's rights is not man hating. In order to develop a positive perception of how we view ourselves we need to celebrate our achievements all day every day. Become the woman you want to be, not who you are told to be. 

I was extremely apprehensive about posting this but I did it, because I felt like it needed to be said. I hope it is perceived in a positive way and is understood with empathy. Happy International Women's Day to all! 

Bridie x
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1 comment

  1. This was a fantastic. I really enjoyed reading it.
    I agree without a lot if not everything you have written.

    Jenn from jenniferjayne.blogspot.co.uk

    ReplyDelete

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