HEATHER PEACE

Fem­i­nists must now pri­ori­tise and protest

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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

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