Hattie Farley · Intersectional Feminism

‘Let’s talk about the F-Word’ by Hattie Farley

“I don’t know why people are so reluctant to say they’re feminists. Could it be any more obvious that we still live in a patriarchal world when feminism is a bad word?” – Ellen Page

I have been asked, by both men and women, as to why the word ‘feminism’ is still used in this day and age. If feminism is for everyone, why include ‘fem’ in the title? Surely, if feminism does include fighting for the equality of not only women but also men, non-binary people, the LGBT community and POC then we should modernise the title to a more inclusive one? In 2015, Meryl Streep claimed that she did not associate with the word ‘feminist’ but instead stated: “I am a humanist, I am for a nice easy balance”.

So, the question is: should the word ‘feminism’ be updated? Should we start defining ourselves as ‘humanists’ and ‘equalists’ to avoid claims that the label ‘feminism’ no longer fits the list of people that it claims to help?

The thing is, by referring to ourselves as ‘feminists’ we are highlighting the social, political and economic disadvantages that women face every single day; this ranges from unwanted cat-calling in the street, FGM, the Bathroom Bill, to the gender pay-gap. Of course, we can claim that defining ourselves as ‘humanists’ and ‘equalists’ we are taking into account and fighting for the equality of everyone. However, the key to understanding why we refer to the word ‘feminism’ when referring to gender equality is to remember that feminism is all about addressing the current state of the world. In the current world we live in, women are the gender group who are heavily discriminated against. This includes the discrimination against WOC, transwomen, gay women and bisexual women.

As Vlogger Steve Shives claimed in a video in 2014:

“The reason why it’s called feminism while advocating for gender equality is because females are the gender that are the underprivileged, underserved gender…You attain gender equality by advocating for the rights of the underprivileged gender”

Despite popular belief, especially amongst the older generations, that feminism is all about women wanting to be better than men, it is actually about bringing women up to the same level as men. How is this possible, by using definitions such as ‘Equalism’ when we have not yet reached that target? This is not to say that men are not discriminated against or affected by the patriarchy. From a young age, society teaches men that they shouldn’t show emotion; that they should act ‘manly’; that they shouldn’t wear the colour pink; they shouldn’t play with dolls but with cars instead. Through my time at school, I watched as boys were labelled as ‘gay boys’ if they let their guard down for more than a second. Statistics show that this behaviour is incredibly damaging for men in later life. Men are statistically more likely to struggle with alcoholism as a coping mechanism rather than women.  Additionally, the 2017 Samaritans Suicide Statisics Report claimed that the highest suicide rate in the UK was for men, aged 40-44. If we want to smash the patriarchy and consequently, these problems and ideas, men must realise the importance and the impact of feminism. We need to stop cowering away from the word and use it as a sword, to smash and protect ourselves from that glass ceiling.

Essentially, it is not the WORD ‘feminism’ that is the problem, and none of us should be afraid to use it, whether you believe in ‘Equalism’ or ‘Humanism’ or not. The thing that both men and women need to continually focus on is making sure that the feminism itself is intersectional. We need to make sure that our feminism isn’t just the type of feminism that only impacts ourselves. In order to make sure that our feminism is progressive, we need to make sure that it includes fighting against the discrimination against race, class and sexual orientation.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism does not mean burning bras, does not automatically make you a lesbian, does not mean you hate men and certainly does not mean you want to be better than men. Without the acceptance of the word and definition of the word ‘feminism’, equality is not, and will never be possible.

Hattie Farley · Intersectional Feminism

‘Things I Wish I Had Known About Feminism’ by Hattie Farley

Feminism: “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes”

‘I’m a feminist.’ I say proudly to anyone who will listen. I’m 13 years old. My hair is cropped short. I’m spotty, uneducated in most aspects of the grown-up world and all I know is that I’m sick of the boys at school. I’m already tired of the struggle of being a female. I’m already sick of periods and break-outs, the unwanted mood-swings and the boys in school getting away with making sexist and unwanted remarks. Of course, this was before I knew anything about feminism and what it all meant. My thought process revolved around the idea that girls were better than boys and that was that. Yet despite this, I felt proud of accepting this word that everyone else around me appeared to be terrified of.

For a few years following this acceptance of my feminism, I began my process into learning what feminism was really all about. At first, I grew very angry at the world and took this out on any man who dared to hold open a door for me (‘I can open a door on my own you know’). This, of course, is not the way we will ever achieve in our fight for equality as (obviously) you can be a feminist and still enjoy men holding doors open for you and carrying your bags. But it certainly made me feel like I was doing my bit for the rights of women when I was fourteen years old.

Slowly but surely, I began to pick up on sexism that was happening outside of my own little world. I began to pick up on Taylor Swift being ridiculed by the media for writing about boys when male artists such as Ed Sheeran and Sam Smith were able to write entire albums on falling in and out of love while being praised for their bravery. I began to learn about the high levels of discrimination that trans men and women go through in the workplace and the battle that they face every day. Despite the fact that gay marriage was passed in the US in 2015, there is still an ongoing fight in regards to the treatment of the transgender community. Just last year, Obama’s policy that transgender school students should be allowed to use a bathroom of their choice was blocked by a US judge. It is pivotal in our fight for equality that discrimination against the LGBT community should be treated the same in the eyes of the law as any other type of discrimination. Yet, we witness these discriminations happen in the public eye every day. The hashtag #OscarsSoWhite trended two years in a row last year due to the fact that out of twenty nominations, not a single person of colour was nominated. Additionally, Carol a romantic film following the story line of two women was snubbed of an Oscar in 2016 proving that despite the fact that lesbian relationships are heavily sexualised within the media and the porn industry, they are not appealing to men if they cannot see themselves as a part of the narrative. It could be argued that this was certainly the case in regards to the Academy (made up mostly of white men) and their choice to overlook Carol entirely.

Unfortunately, these issues don’t just happen in America. Similar comments and headlines can be found in pretty much any copy of The Daily Mail. In September 2016, a political storyline revolving Theresa May and a meeting with European Council President Donald Tusk was reduced into a tacky headline about the ‘daring thigh-split skirt’ that she had ‘dared’ to wear to such an important meeting. Similarly, actress Maisie Williams was targeted by The Daily Mail last year, for audaciously going ‘bra-less in a sheer lace dress’ at a charity event. Maisie William’s responded to this headline, suggesting that The Daily Mail should focus on her help in raising thousands of pounds towards a charity rather than her choice of clothing.

These are the aspects of feminism that I wish I had known when I was thirteen and simply sick of the boys at school. Because the biggest thing I’ve learnt is that if your feminism isn’t intersectional, it isn’t feminism. If it is the type of feminism that only impacts and revolves around yourself, then it isn’t feminism.

Most importantly, I have learnt to strive off that anger that builds up inside you when Hillary Clinton and Theresa May are reduced to items of clothing rather than their well-established careers. Let it fuel you. That anger is the reason why one day our generation will see the end of the pay gap. That anger is how women won the vote. That anger will see us through Donald Trump’s misogynistic, racist and homophobic comments. That anger will keep you fighting for a braver and brighter future because despite what people think, equal rights does not mean fewer rights for anyone else.

 

 

You can also find this post on my Medium account.