This past Thursday was International Women's Day
I’m just going to get the disclaimer bit out of the way first - I appreciate the issues that the organizers of various conferences and events were trying to raise awareness of. I appreciate the work that people like EQUALS do for IWD. I appreciate that this day means a lot to a lot of women, and that many of you enjoyed the various talks you went to. Many of you were probably greatly inspired by the IWD events.
All of that aside - we need to talk about some things surrounding being a woman, and more specifically, being a feminist.
1. Equality is NOT A Sisterhood of Women Who Agree On Everything
WOMEN OF THE WORLD, please disagree with each other. You do not need to agree on things like childbirth, breast feeding, working mothers, marriage, etc. If you want to spend your time arguing with other women about these topics, that is your right. If you would like to disagree about other things like politics, religion, whether or not you're sad/excited about Rory and Amy's departure from Doctor Who, be my guest.
You can find me doing in depth things like painting my nails and tweezing my rogue boob hairs if you'd like to yell at me about my views on women in technology. But if you want to spend time getting into it with other women about this stuff, you go right ahead. Tweet at me or something if you need backup.
2. “Can I be a feminist and ______?”
My answer to that question is YES unless you’re asking the following...
“...beat up my girlfriend?”
“...pay my female employees less than their male counterparts?”
“...pass laws telling women what they can and can’t do with their bodies?”
“...have sexual feelings towards Rush Limbaugh?”
“...yell ‘OI DARLIN!’ at young women in the street and flash them my willy?”
“...generally hate women?”
The answer to all of the above is NO. NO YOU CAN'T.
However, I think you can be a feminist if you agree with and live by its definition, which is: advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.
If you agree that violence against women is bad and that we should do something about it, that we should get paid as much as men, and generally just be treated as equals in society in every way shape or form, congratulations! I hear by grant you your Official Feminist card. (Please wait 30 days before it arrives in the post along with a stick of red lipstick, a copy of the Daily Mail and a lighter.)
Here’s the thing: lot of people - men and women both - will try to tell you how to be. It’s what society loves to do because, surprise, you’re a woman! (Congrats!)
Unfortunately, some feminists like to believe they are more feminist than others. The truth is that they are wrong, and they don’t know what they’re talking about. However, this doesn't mean they're not a feminist, this just makes them an asshole. (“Can I be a feminist if ...I’m an asshole?” Answer: ABSOLUTELY.)
You can be a feminist and do any of the following at the same time:
Get married, have three boyfriends, eight girlfriends, vajazzle your lady parts, shave your lady parts, have a giant bush, have a one-night stand, shave your head, wear hair extensions, wear false eye lashes, wear make-up, do yoga, use super plus tampons, knit, be a stripper, work as a high class escort, have twenty children, be a stay at home mom, be a working mom, be a monk, love Jesus, dress like you may or may not be a prostitute, actually be a prostitute, eat bananas, go to university, get your eyebrows threaded, pay for a male escort to come to your house on a Saturday night, smoke pot, get Botox, have breast implants and EVEN WEAR HIGH HEELS!
The catch: We all have different morals and boundaries and make different life choices. If you say you're a feminist and you also turn tricks at the weekend, I'm going to be more concerned with the fact that you turn tricks at the weekend rather than the whole "but I'm a feminist, too" part. I mean really. Priorities, people.
Women need to stop saying what you can and can’t do as a feminist. Bottom. Line. It's boring and offensive. We are not going to agree on everything, so can we stop worrying about who is using OUR WORD to describe themselves?
We need to stop policing each other and just get on with our lives!
I feel that women and feminists do themselves a disservice by doing so much talking and discussing and debating feminism itself instead of simply doing something about feminist issues.
Yes, I think it’s important that we have events like Cybher - mostly because this is a gathering of women who are actually doing things on a daily, hourly, secondly basis.
However, as I’ve been in a lady-focused business for quite a long time now (six years! Surely I should get a gold star on my Feminist Card by now?) and I think we’ve slipped into the pattern of thinking too much about our support groups, and outreach programs and lunches, and brunches and receptions and drinks and dinners and clubs and workshops and breakfasts and livechats and hashtags rather than actually doing something on a daily basis for ourselves and the greater femi-good.
If you care about something, a topic or an issue that is lady-specific, like domestic violence or how women are represented in the media, it’s always a good idea to take an assessment of your own work and actions and ask yourself, “Am I talking about what others and the government and men should be doing to fix this? Or am I actually taking action myself to make a difference?”
I hate to get all Nike on you, but, JUST DO IT.
I wish Miss Representation would do something like fund an all-female created/directed/written film rather than requesting a very pricey "speaking honorarium" as well as "travel and accommodations for two people" for its founder to come speak at a screening.
I wish that businesswomen would just pass around the names of good accountants and financial advisors, rather than charging other women to come to a workshop that helps "empower" them to make financial decisions.
And, more than anything else, I wish women and feminists would stop wasting their time doing things like trying to make feminism more palatable, or other women true feminists and just get on with doing more important things like not electing another men into office who think it's their right to tell us what or what not to do with our bodies.
Is FEMINIST VAJAZZLING a bigger issue than that? DIDN'T THINK SO.
Image via Spec-ta-cle's Flickr