Thursday, 24 July 2008

It's a Feminist Issue

Doesn't everything seem to be a feminist issue? Fat, guns, climate change, gay rights and food are just a few of the things which a google search throws up as feminist issues. No wonder the idea of feminism has acquired such a stigma that women are reluctant to 'be feminists'; feminism is associated with bra-burning, ferocious, man-hating and bitter spinsters. A notion seems to have developed that you cannot be a feminist if you have chosen to be a mother, or enjoy hobbies which may be seen as frivolous: that sewing, cooking, even fashion cannot go hand in hand with feminism. That to be equal to men, you have to have a high powered career.

These ideas are only inaccurate, but in my eyes are the entire opposite of the true feminist ideal. To me, feminism implies a choice. It is the movement which started by demanding to have the same political rights as men, but is actually more important than being identical to a man in every way (after all, that would mean bra-burning, hairy legs and no dresses, wouldn't it?); it is the ability which a woman should be able to have to choose which path of life she wishes to take, and not have to factor into that decision the constraints of law (which thankfully has been achieved in the UK to a great extent), society and even each other. Despite the preat progession in women's rights, I don't think feminism is an archaic issue when a woman is unable to choose the path of parenthood without making great sacrifices for her career when for a man, this is a complete non-issue.

In the same way that I deem their beliefs inaccurate, I am sure that there are plenty of people who disagree with my milder approach. Take the book Jane Eyre, which upon publication caused an outrage for its 'strongly feminist stance'. Now, it is difficult to appreciate how ground-breaking it was from a feminist point of view. This does show how far feminism has progressed, but it is also a great way of highlighting what are to me, the core ideas of feminism, that the roles of men and woman should not be concrete; they should be fluid and flexible and reversed as the individual wishes.

'Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel...they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer'


  1. as a graduate of an all-women's college, the focus on feminism was quite strong. when i first arrived, i also had that vision of these crazy ladies that were running around burning bras, etc. now i realize it's simply about equality and anyone who does not support that needs to do some soul-searching. great post.

  2. My school was full of rad-fems, and it was pretty hard to find my way to the place I am now, between the rampant groups of all persuasions. It seemed that it was never good enough if you weren't extreme.

    I like bits of the old gender roles, and bits of the new gender roles.

    I'm grateful to all the women who worked hard so that I can take what I like and leave the rest.