To explain why this ties in with my job;
Working among students gets me all nostalgic. I had an awesome time studying. But I do think about some of the male attitudes I came across, especially in my first year of study. Students, male or female, can go through a turbulent time with long distance relationships or “seeing” a course/flat mate and of course the inevitable nights out where hormone pumped teenagers are thrown together in tiny clubs and bars. I think a lot of what I experienced (sexist remarks etc) could have been avoided if I had called people out on their less than ideal sense of how a woman should act.
I was fortunate in that all my flat mates were absolute diamonds in terms of looking after us on a night out. And I don’t think I was ever left in a situation where I could have got myself into trouble. I did however, notice girls who tried to “keep up with the boys” drinking and then were left to fend for themselves (No I don’t think they are delicate flowers, they were just smashed). I have studied feminism in Sociology and Politics and I know there is a lot of academic blah-blah-blahing around it. My ideas may not be academic but my theory is that:
Women need feminism so they know what sexism is and so that they can learn to respect themselves when their male counter parts might not.
I realise that things are a bit more complicated that that but fits the purpose of what I am going to write about. The statement is based on a few things;
The rise in the “Every day sexism” project on twitter (my goodness some of the things you read make you think we’re still living in the dark ages) If you don’t know about it google it or go to http://www.everydaysexism.com/ you can also find them on twitter.
Personal experience; Being a woman/girl/lady myself I have encountered both sexism and feminism in different ways.
More importantly I think having eldest child syndrome I have heard about things from my younger siblings (one sister, one brother) that really make me cringe about how young people talk to one another, about one another and generally view one another.
So I think this starts in the early days of awkward sex ed lessons. I wrote my dissertation on sex education(UK) and how it isn’t addressing certain issues properly. I think one of the key areas that is missing is talking to young women about how to assert themselves and about boundaries and what is and isn’t OK. I mean this in terms of how boys/men can treat you and speak to you. I don’t mean to say they are all vile and that they are all out to hurt you but some girls don’t realise that what they are putting up with isn’t right. Be that a verbally abusive partner or a leery stranger at the bar.
Side note: (Massive kudos to the girl who started a feminist society in her school; http://www.theguardian.com/education/mortarboard/2013/jun/20/why-i-started-a-feminist-society a must read article)
It all comes down to self respect and confidence which a lot of girls don’t automatically have. And there is a difference between having that and being fiesty or obnoxious. It’s about having the assertiveness to say “No, you’re not going to speak to me like that!” And the courage to know when to speak up and when to walk away. And I think this goes both ways- young men have a lot to learn as well (I won’t wade into the “lads banter” debate here. But I could.)
None of this is to say that feminists or women’s rights aren’t doing enough to help young women (because there are countless organisations available) but I find some feminist groups don’t make the topics/issues accessible to people (not including every day sexism). Either in the way some of them can be perceived as “extreme” in their views or in the vernacular they use to talk about the issues surrounding feminism. It is because of issues like these that some people think feminism is a dirty word.
This very blog is ALREADY too long and that’s because it is such a complex topic!I know I have talked a lot about men and women and that is not to exclude anyone who does not identify by gender or who doesn’t identify with the binary of male/female. I can only work with what I know and I can’t begin to understand the things people who are “gender neutral” (if that is the right term) go through, so apologies for my ignorance.
I commend you if you have reached the bottom of this! It takes patience and understanding to get your head around feminist and gender issues and in today’s instant gratification culture with “POLTICAL CORRECTNESS GONE MAD” scenarios I don’t think people have the time to think about it.
I may write another post about feminism and work at some point. It will depend on feedback I get from this. For now I will leave you with a quote;
Me: “If anyone looked at my digital footprint, they’d probably think I’m a right feminist”
My boss:”Why would that be a bad thing?”