Thursday, 8 March 2012

What feminism means to me

To me, feminism means equality.

Feminism means fighting with every fibre of your being for a better world: one in which a person's sexual organs do not determine the rest of their life; one in which a person is not harassed, abused and oppressed because they happen to have a vagina.

Feminism means combating gender essentialism. It means rejecting and challenging social constructs, it means refusing to accept that little boys play with toy cars, while little girls play with toy dolls; that little boys go out and explore, while little girls stay at home with their pretend miniature kitchens. It means believing that gender is a profoundly complex issue, which can't be reduced to black and white terms. It means inclusiveness, it does not mean transphobia.

Feminism means endless campaigning. It means rejecting the media's idea of wimmin's issues being somehow niche, when this, in fact, is the reality:

Feminism means fighting for equal pay, better maternity laws and free childcare. It means tackling the casual sexism of the workplace. It means demanding that essentials like tampons are free on the NHS. It means lobbying for better sex education in schools, and ensuring advice and contraception are available to those who want and need them. It means standing up to every attempt by the state to control a woman's body. 


Feminism does not mean pushing through a programme of cuts which will hit women hardest. It does not mean closing Sure Start centres and slashing benefits. It does not mean launching an attack on women - of all classes - to pay for a crisis caused by the financial elite. It does not mean cutting vital government funding to domestic violence charities, which could well result in their closure, putting hundreds of lives in very real danger. It does mean putting two fingers up to the vicious clusterfuck of morons who currently govern us. 

Feminism means unity, it means solidarity, it means working together for a common cause, but it also means healthy debate and disagreement. It means confronting the rise of 'free-market feminism', a warped ideology which purports to be in favour of female equality, but it is quite happy with the social inequality and exploitation wrought by neoliberal capitalism. 

Amber Rudd MP, Theresa May MP, Louise Mensch MP and Claire Perry MP 

Feminism means tackling misogyny in public life, both verbal and physical. It means challenging the overt sexism of the the press, which, in the words of Laurie Penny, "is the dirty oil in the engine, the juice that makes the whole shuddering sleaze-machine run smoothly". It means not being afraid to take on a media which consistently objectifies women, which airbrushes models to super-skinny, blemish-free goddesses and then demands that its readers, viewers and listeners lose weight, lather themselves with cream, shave, pluck,  scrub, conceal - lest they displease their demanding male overlords.

Feminism means combating 'banter'. It means exposing the grotesqueness of 'lad culture' and online swamps of chauvinism like UniLad. It means refusing to let rape 'jokes' go unchallenged, for nominally 'humorous' sexist slurs to go unquestioned. It means taking a vocal stand against the likes of this: 

And this: 


Feminism means putting an end - full stop - to slut-shaming. It means making the point that a woman's sex life is her own god-damn business and nobody else's. It means tearing to shreds the idea of a man's sexual promiscuity being amusingly 'laddy', while a woman's is "slaggish" or immoral. 

Feminism means putting an end to rape culture. It means emphasising the point that rape is rape; that it isn't only when a cloaked figure jumps out at you from the bushes. It means challenging and eradicating the inherent sexism of the police, and working to ensure that women are not afraid to report a sexual assault. 


Feminism means rejecting the still persistent idea of women as carers and men as breadwinners. It means smashing the glass ceiling into non-existence, and demanding female representation in the worlds of politics and business, to name just two. It means making a noise whenever a comedy panel show or a current affairs programme has solely male guests. It means challenging the fact that 78% of newspaper articles are written by men, 72% of Question Time contributors are men and 84% of reporters and guests on Radio 4's Today programme are men. 

An Extract from A Doll's House, a play by the 19th Century playwright, Henrik Ibsen:

Nora: What do you consider my most sacred duties?

Torvald: Do I need to tell you that? Are they not your duties to me your husband and your children?

Nora: I believe I have other duties.

Torvald: That you have not. What duties could those be?

Nora: Duties to myself. 

Torvald: Before all else you are a wife and mother. 

Nora: I don't believe that any longer. I believe that before all else I am a human being.

Feminism - and today especially - means celebrating women throughout history and championing the huge progress that has been made; be it universal female suffrage, sexual liberation, the establishment of fairer laws and many more. It means singing the praises of influential, inspirational female figures of the past and present - writers, journalists, scientists, activists, campaigners, pioneers, visionaries. But it also means remembering that the war is far from over; that though leaps have been made, we are still a long way away from full equality. It means remembering that women in every country are still oppressed. It means remembering that feminism's work is not done. It means considering how the mother of feminism - Mary Wollstonecraft - would react if she saw the state of the world 215 years after her death. 

Created by the eternally wonderful @stavvers
Feminism means never giving up. Feminism means standing shoulder to shoulder fighting for a better, more just world. Feminism means faith in fundamental equality. Feminism means laughing, crying, rejoicing, shouting, demanding, challenging, striving. Feminism means getting angry. Feminism means believing in the radical notion that women are fucking HUMAN BEINGS. Feminism means smashing the patriarchy - the kyriarchy - into a thousand tiny pieces.

My name is Sam Liu, and I am a feminist.


Helen said...

Bravo ~~ from one feminist to another!!

Tanya Singh said...

Very nicely written.. Loved the conversation between the cop and man in particular. Am shocked that your article doesnt have more comments of appreciation!