Feminists must now prioritise and protest
The current state of the Western world feels a bit like a socio- political melting pot of immiscible liquids. Like oil and water, as long as they exist together in the pot, there won’t ever be cohesion. It’s totally divided and it’s a mess. I’m reading things online that I can’t begin to understand. I’m pretty empathetic. I’m interested in other peoples’ motivations and generally strive to “see things their way”. At times it’s clear why our views differ. We are well aware already that elements such as poverty, religion or even simple geography play a fundamental part in forming our core belief systems. But at the moment, it’s like a bad sci- fi film. Like we are victims of a botched cloning experiment. Instead of the Antichrist, there are living, breathing versions of the “Anti- us”. Whatever the beliefs of my friends (and they’re a pretty eclectic bunch), there is someone out there offering enough of an extreme opposite version of them to be genuinely worried.
I see the Twitter profile picture of a young American woman. She’s posting a two- picture meme; one pic is a group of 1950s women sitting around looking glamorous and smiling into the camera. The second pic is a group of modern day women marching, fists in the air, emphatically shouting together. The caption reads: “Femininity v feminism. I rest my case.” WHAT. THE. ACTUAL? What has happened? Why is being a feminist something to be sneered at? Laughed at? Taunted? Is it me or does it all feel so cold? So cruel?
Here’s the definition of feminism: “The theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” As far as I can see, being a feminist is believing in equal rights. Full stop. So how did this become so twisted by so many? My feminism is the dictionary defini- tion of feminism. Any reasons for not accepting my feminism are invalid unless you don’t believe in the equality of the sexes. That’s why I’m totally struggling with any of the arguments against it.
We should, however, as feminists, prioritise. See the bigger picture. When things make us mad, as they may well do most days, pick our battles. Try to relax about the things that have little impact. Don’t get hung up on guys stretching out on the bus, “manspreading”. Don’t see that as yet another example of patriarchy, just see it as bad manners. There’s plenty of that around. From both genders.
Many will no doubt disagree with me. And the small things “add up”, for sure. The small things contribute to the sexism that’s ingrained in our society. Everyday sexism. I loathe it. But it’s also complaints about the small things that alienate so many and give the sexist a platform to ridicule. And we want the masses on- side. We want people to go back to the dictionary definition of the
word and stand with us. We want them to get angry together about women’s lack of representation in the offices of power. In government, in the top jobs on the FTSE index. We want them to get angry about the fact that Trump signed away women’s abortion rights in other countries by rescinding on donations to any organisation that provided abortion or even counselled women on abortion. This will affect the poorest women the world over. It was signed by Trump while six other white men looked on. You’ve probably seen the photo doing the rounds on social media, quite rightly pointing out that you’d never see seven women standing around making plans for the future of the male reproductive system. Forty- seven thousand women die every year around the world from unsafe abortions. This policy will directly impact those figures. Women dying completely unnecessarily. But Trump signed the order anyway. This is just the start.
The Women’s March was a different start. A polar opposite start. The Anti-trump. A mainstream movement that was supporting the work already started by the likes of the WEP. The start of something that the petulance and downright patronising tones of Daily Mail columnist Piers Morgan et al cannot belittle or ignore. Anyone can say, “What was the point in it?” because women in the Western world already have equal rights. Anyone can shout about how we Western women are spoilt; that we should be protesting about the way women are treated in Saudi Arabia instead. But this is short- sighted. We are protesting and threatening to resist actions that will roll the clock back in our Western society. We are protesting by showing we are united. We are protesting to stop this before it goes any further. We are protesting in our democratic countries. Being democratic, we might just make a difference here. Not many of us have any connections with the likes of Saudi or indeed any possibility of making a difference to their laws. But, yes, we massively give a shit. We are just doing what we know how to do. What we can have some control over. Not letting our own countries take backward steps. Not letting our own countries signal to countries that seriously oppress women that we think it’s ok to do so. We can make sure we keep moving forward as a beacon of hope to women in oppressive countries. That’s what we are doing for women in Saudi.
There are laws that are supposed to make women equal in the Western world, but laws are one thing and day- to- day misogyny and sexism are an utterly different story. The fact that the office of President of the United States has been handed to, at best, an utter misogynist should tell you how ingrained sexism is in our society. The fact that 52% of white women voted for him tells you even more how ingrained this vile sexist attitude is. These women overlooked it. It didn’t matter to them that he talked about their privates as things to be “grabbed” at whim. Everyday sexism is obviously just that normal to them. “Boys will be boys.” Well, no. Boys I know are NOT like this. They DO NOT partake in rapey “locker room talk” and they DO NOT objectify their daughters the way Trump did in one of the most disgusting and quite frankly disturbing interviews I have seen. This modern- day, third wave of feminism is trying to make sure that these wonderful, inspiring, good and kind boys and men are our norm, and not the misogynistic followers of Trump. I have one daughter already and two more growing in my belly. So no. I am not going to accept this for my daughters.
People are scared for their futures. I’m scared for our futures. My daughters’ futures. Trump may have been democratically elected according to the American system but it is also a democratic right to protest for what you believe in. Seeing all those people come together the way they did on the Women’s March was a beacon of light. It’s so easy to feel utterly depressed at the state of everything at the moment. But seeing the mobilisation of so many women and men, coming together, to say “no” to this archaic turning back of clocks was a relief to watch. To know that there are so many who feel the same. To know that this world can still be a place for us. We just have to be strong, keep focus and not let the momentum die down. Don’t just accept. Keep reading, keep speaking up. When the press inevitably get a bit bored of the same old story, don’t let your guard down. Read. Protest. Organise. Mobilise.
One positive thing to finish on. Far more people attended the Women’s March than Trump’s inauguration. A true message to the world that unity and love will always impassion and move people to act more than division and hatred. Watch out, sci- fi alteregos. The Anti- us. We’re just getting started.
52% of white women overlooked his vile misogyny to vote for Trump