Mar­ian Keyes

Sud­den Wild En­thu­si­asms No 32 Beech & Black

The Irish Times Magazine - - INSIDE -

Af­ter fear­ing the word for a few decades, I’ve never been more proud to wear it

The so- called Sec­ond Wave of Fem­i­nism came to an end in the early 80s, around the time I was 20. I en­tered the work- force with the mes­sage that the war was over, the vic­tory was won and that, as a wo­man, the world was my oys­ter.

This of course, was a load of CODSWALLOP. Cer­tainly a lot had been achieved by the work of those amaz­ing pi­o­neers, mostly in lib­er­at­ing women from the shackles of the home, but we were light years away from equal­ity.

How­ever, in a neat trick per­formed by the pa­tri­archy to halt any fur­ther ac­tivism, the word “fem­i­nist” be­came sul­lied. Fem­i­nists were de­picted as shrill, hairy, clog- wear­ing Mil­lie Tants and the mes­sage I re­ceived loud and clear was, “Hey there, girlie! You want a boyfriend, don’t you? Yes! Well, don’t be a fem­i­nist! No man wants one of those hir­sute, dun­ga­ree- wear­ing hor­rors.”

Ter­ri­fied, I agreed. No to the fem­i­nists! But it was strange liv­ing in a world that was rage- mak­ingly un­equal yet feel­ing alien­ated from the one move­ment that could have helped me. It was frus­trat­ing, con­fus­ing and de­press­ing.

The so- called Third Wave of Fem­i­nism kicked off in the mid- 90s. I was on- board with their ideas but couldn’t get past the word “fem­i­nist”.

My great fear was that “the fem­i­nists” would mock me for lov­ing shoes and get­ting my legs waxed. I said mor­ti­fy­ing things like, “I agree with every­thing they stand for but [ ner­vous chuckle] I’d hardly call my­self a fem­i­nist.” ( The mem­ory of which trig­gers a bout of full- body, shame- in­duced im­petigo.)

But if it thinks like a fem­i­nist, talks like a fem­i­nist, sup­ports other women like a fem­i­nist, then it’s a fem­i­nist. Now I know that fem­i­nists aren’t a breed apart from “or­di­nary” women: fem­i­nists are all of us with an ounce of sense. Every sin­gle one of us want ac­cess to the op­por­tu­ni­ties that men have. Every sin­gle one of us would like it that our body is our own prop­erty.

Beech & Black is run by a re­ally sound Ir­ish wo­man called Stacey ( a “proud, in­ter­sec­tional fem­i­nist.”) She’s do­nated to all kinds of great causes like Abor­tion Sup­port Network and The Sa­mar­i­tans. The site is a trea­sure trove of beau­ti­ful fem­i­nist prod­ucts: t- shirts that say, “A mother’s place is in the re­sis­tance”; keyrings with in­spi­ra­tional mes­sages like, “Nev­er­the­less she per­sisted”; pretty pen­cils with fem­i­nist slo­gans. Even fem­i­nist cho­co­late! ( It says “Girl Power” on the wrap­ping.)

But my very favourite is this neck­lace.

In rose- gold it spells out just one word: Fem­i­nist. Af­ter fear­ing the word for a few decades, I’ve never been more proud to wear it.

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