A FISH AND A BICYCLE

I hadn’t really noticed the media backlash to feminism until I read an article in the weekend newspapers recently. The first thing I did was research the internet. I found a post of young women holding up placards declaring why they weren’t feminists. They said they didn’t believe in feminism:
“Because I believe in equality not entitlements and supremacy”
“Because I don’t think being a woman is a disadvantage”
“Because I respect men. I refuse to demonize them and blame them for my problems”

What the? Entitlements and supremacy? You don’t have to hate men to be a feminist. You can even be a man and a feminist. Did the baton get lost sometime in the last decade or two?

I admit it was easy for me. Seeing my mum cook and clean all day, never getting a chance to sit down. She’d have time to shower and change, pour a sherry for my dad when he arrived home from work. My fifteen year old self was appalled. Five years after the Sex Discrimination Act and I still felt I was in a fifties movie, complete with pretty aprons and the smell of cup cakes wafting from the kitchen. I stopped reading Smash Hits and subscribed to Spare Rib, a feminist magazine. It took up most of my pocket money.

The movement started in the late 1800’s and the term feminism was coined by a man – a Utopian Socialist and French philosopher called Charles Fourier. Since then we have had the suffragette movement where women gave their lives to the cause. The sixties and seventies when women came out as thinkers, demanded jobs in so-called male arenas, marched for equal rights (I am Woman Hear Me Roar) and who could forget the post-feminism of the early nineties. I could actually as I never really understood it.

Basically feminists come in all shapes and sizes and I would bet that very few of them hate men. I don’t think women want to be men either – some do. However, that’s not feminism but something else entirely.

Having taken advantage of all the rights fought for in previous generations is it okay to turn our back and claim we didn’t want it anyway? It’s not about taking up a corporate job and banging our heads against the glass ceiling, it’s about freedom. The right to vote, the right to equality – politically, economically, culturally, and socially. If you think we have all those then you’re one of the lucky ones. In developing countries women are not allowed to attend schools or universities, they suffer genital mutilation. They are repressed and controlled. Murdered for adultery. If you are happy with your apartment in a nice neighbourhood, your well paid job and don’t care about the women who sacrificed themselves in the past, that’s fine.

But what would have happened if we’d turned our backs on the lives of men lost in wars? Would things have been different if it had been a man who threw himself in front of the King’s horse, chained himself to railings or endured the humiliation of force feeding in prison?

Who remembers the A Woman Needs a Man Like a Fish Needs a Bicycle poster? A bit much maybe, but funny. Shouldn’t we be more offended by Porn Culture and so-called Reality TV. Objectifying women and the dumbing down of our generation. In the words of Patsy Stone from Absolutely Fabulous – “It’s not objectifying women, she’s got the whip”. A lovely irony.

I won’t go into boob jobs and bum implants. Nips, tucks and fillers. If you’re happy with a strangely shiny face and bee-sting lips go ahead.

Madonna is a humanist not a feminist(?) Gwyneth Paltrow and Taylor Swift don’t like this F-word and Katy Perry is confused, Bless. There’s even an Anti-Feminist facebook page.

The definition of a feminist is simply this:- “The advocacy of woman’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexe”s. There I said it. It’s not subversive or frightening. It’s fair.

You can bake fairy cakes in a pink tutu. Knit clothes for your entire family. Even shower before you husband comes home. It’s not about man hating or refusing to shave your legs. Burning your bra or any of the clichés tied up with the Woman’s Rights Movement. Let’s stand alongside men, not four steps behind them.

And there’s still so much to do. We are a long way from being treated as equals – even in the so-called developed world.

PS I have been gifted a subscription to ‘Good Housekeeping’ by my mother-in-law and I’m loving every minute of it. I even have a pretty apron hanging up ironically in my kitchen.

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