Miss Interpretation: The Angry Feminist – published in the Hawick News 13/06/2014

[The original article was misprinted, here it is as it should be]

  I am a feminist and today I’d like to clarify what that means.

First of all I do not hate men. In my life I am surrounded by brilliant, supportive men, some of whom identify themselves as feminists also.

A feminist is a person, male or female, who believes in gender equality, politically, economically and socially.

As for the angry part, well unfortunately there are still countless issues to be angry about.

This week it was revealed that calls to a rape crisis help-line in Glasgow have increased by 50 % in just two years. Victim blaming in cases of sexual assault is still prevalent; girls are taught that it’s their responsibility to keep themselves safe, instead of boys being taught about sexual consent and respecting their female peers.

A very high number of women I know have been sexually harassed, assaulted and made to feel unsafe when out alone at night. These incidents make us feel ashamed of our bodies and ourselves, that somehow we did something to encourage this behaviour.

According to Women’s Aid, in the UK a staggering average of 2 women per week are killed by a partner or former partner.

It is also vital to note that feminism is a global issue.

We should all be angry at the kidnapping of Nigerian school girls by the Boko Haram, terrorised for simply wanting an education; at the beating to death of a pregnant woman by her family outside a court in Pakistan after she married for love; at the continuation of the horrendous and scarring procedure of female genital mutilation; at the Indian minister who said that sometimes rape is right.

To dismiss feminism is to dismiss all of the above plus thousands more incidents of violence and oppression.

We must also acknowledge the cases of violence against men, perpetrated by women. While they are far less common, they are no less significant. The silence of male victims comes from the same culture that breeds violence against women, a culture that encourages men to ‘man up’.

The first step on the road to a solution is to reject the idea that there are innately feminine and masculine qualities. When we label what men and women should be, we contribute to the feelings of shame and anger of those who don’t fit the mould.

So yes, I am angry as well as saddened that these things go on and that I still feel I need to explain what it means to be a feminist.

But anger can be productive, stirring us into action. In Glasgow hundreds took to the streets on Monday night to protest the recent escalation of sexual assaults in the city. Raising awareness of gender inequality in all its forms is the beginning of instigating real change.

 

 

 

 

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