APPARENTLY feminism should be ditched. Dropped. Forgotten about. Outlawed. A movement has been launched by (mainly) young women who believe feminism is not for them.
It is, they argue, all butch lesbians with bad haircuts in unflattering trousers, desperately trying to make themselves heard about a topic which is irrelevant in the modern world.
I’m not quite sure where they got this outdated image of feminism. Perhaps one of them, rifling around in their grandmother’s bookshelves, found a copy of The Female Eunuch, complete with a black and white picture of Germaine Greer herself – all puffy 1970s hair and stern expression.
We are now equal, they say. It’s over. So stop blethering on about it, you boring old women, and let us get back to making cupcakes and painting our nails a sparkly pink. It’s our right as women. These self-dubbed anti-feminists argue that they already happily live in an equal society. What they forget is what their lives would be if previous generations of women had not been feminists – whether they called themselves that or not. And that the lives of many women around the world – in both eastern and western societies – are still not as discrimination-free as theirs.
On the often illiterate and mind numbingly ignorant Women Against Feminism Facebook page – which has attracted more than 15,000 followers worldwide and is an offshoot of the original Tumblr movement – one female writes: “Has anyone noticed how feminists are all butt ugly and anti-feminists are all super hot?”
Another explains, on a piece of paper held up in a pouting selfie: “I don’t need feminism because my boyfriend treats me right!”
Wow. This is why we really need feminism.
Most of these women live in societies where laws stop them from being discriminated against most of the time. Lucky them. They say that feminism rejects femininity and that they like it when a man holds a door open for them. How nice. I also like it when anyone holds a door open for me – it’s definitely preferable to them slamming it in my face, that’s for sure. But if it wasn’t for feminism, I wouldn’t be writing this. I would be at home, probably scrubbing my kitchen floor, before heading off to the bedroom to make sure my lipstick was bright and my skirt straight before my husband came home. After all, keeping my man happy would be what I would be all about.
In fact, I wouldn’t have the choice of going to work at all. Pre-war, few women did. Those who did have jobs were forced into so-called female occupations: sewing, typing, domestic service. A female doctor? Unheard of. A female pilot? What horror. If I was one of the few educated elite, I might manage to find myself a couple of hours a week working as a journalist – perhaps writing a household cleaning tips section for a women’s magazine.
This is clearly why we still need feminism.
Without feminism, I wouldn’t be able to vote in the forthcoming independence referendum. I wouldn’t be able to express my view at any parliamentary election at all. Female politicians would not exist. The debate as to the proportion of women in a government’s cabinet would be redundant – the answer would be zero.
Some women – Emmeline Pankhurst, Andrea Dworkin – have publicly led the feminist campaign. Others have been pioneers in a smaller way.
My grandmother was one of those women. After her children had gone to secondary school, she decided she wanted to go back to work. She got herself a job at a department store and broke the news to my grandad. The family legend goes that he said he didn’t mind at all – as long as she still had dinner on the table every night by 6:30pm. She did. And worked until she was forced to retire aged 60.
Now, we have evolved even further. In most families, women have the right to work if they so choose – and how the childcare is arranged is a joint decision.
Feminism is not merely one thing. It is the belief that people should be equal; that while it is perfectly acceptable, as these women insist in their selfie posts, to raise children, stay at home, even enjoy cleaning – it should be a choice, not a necessity.