A feminists guide to feminism

opinion

I was watching University Challenge the other night. I occasionally watch it because 1) I genuinely find it fascinating how clever the contestants are and 2) Once in a blue moon I might know one of the answers and that makes me feel pretty good. The subject of famous feminists came up for one of the teams and non of them seemed to have a clue about any of it apart from the question about Germaine Greer. I don’t expect everyone to have extensive knowledge of feminism but I do think this pointed out that maybe it’s not a subject a lot of people (even academics) seem to have much knowledge of. Feminism is a really important movement in history, without it the world would be completely different right now. Sometimes it seems like we’ve even taken a step back.

David Cameron doesn’t seem to have a clue what the word feminism even means. Last year he was asked by Red magazine if he himself was a feminist. Cameron replied “I don’t know what I’d call myself … it’s up to others to attach labels. But I believe men and women should be treated equally.” Right. Even Wikipedia seems to have a better understanding of what feminism means. The opening line reads-

Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women.[1][2] This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist advocates or supports the rights and equality of women.”

It’s not ideal to quote Wikipedia but I’m just trying to point out it should have been a pretty straight forward answer. He later back tracked and told Channel 4 news what he should have actually said was “…if that means equal rights for women, then yes. If that is what you mean by feminist, then yes, I am a feminist.” What else would it mean? Did he think we meant something else?

“David Cameron, do you believe women are better than men?”

“David Cameron, have you ever burnt a bra before?”

Oh and by the way the Oxford Dictionary simply states feminism is – “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.”

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David Cameron

It’s obvious Cameron was worried what the public would think of him. Because most people believe that feminism means something else entirely. Everyone seems to have their own weird definition of the word feminism, all you have to do is read the truely bizarre comments that come underneath every article ever written about feminism on the internet. The definition should not be up for debate, and if our own prime minister is having trouble calling himself a feminist I think that’s a problem that needs to be addressed.

Nobody wants to be defined as a feminist, it’s not cool and it’s been made into a negative term instead of a positive term. Can I just address this interesting comment I’ve found on here http://www.varsity.co.uk/comment/6836

“Feminism is ridiculous. Feminism is not about ‘equality’ anymore than Beatles fanaticism is about peace. Feminism is the belief that women are and have been throughout history, systematically oppressed by men. Men do not largely subscribe to this belief because, in case you haven’t noticed or just don’t care, men endure more violence than women. Just because you want to make the world happy doesn’t mean any old lie will do for the greater good.”

Okay…. but don’t men endure more violence than women because they are violent towards each other most of the time? If you’re talking about war, women weren’t allowed to fight in the same positions as men and still aren’t. I read an article in Glamour written by Dawn O’Porter recently, and she used this statistic-

” Violence against women is responsible for more deaths and disability in women aged 15-44 globally than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined”

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Dawn O’Porter

The same statistic is also quoted in http://www.unicef.org/emerg/files/women_insecure_world.pdf

I actually cannot believe how much we are still battling with this. We are a 1st world country and barely any of us even know what the word feminism means let alone think it’s important anymore. There is always something more important than feminism right?

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