I think this post has been a while coming. Feminism in itself seems to be having a bit of a surge of late, and I’m often asked what I think of certain things anyway, people presuming me to be a feminist (why? I have no idea).
So fine, world, here are my views.
I’ve recently seen two things which have reinforced the sentiment I hold that modern feminism is killing equality and female independence. The idea that feminists aren’t speaking for women in general isn’t a new one, but lately it seems that every time someone mentions something which could be anti-feminist, up pops a would-be Germaine Greer with views, and then they are directly followed by a host of people either applauding their strong feminist ideals, or calling them out on the exact same thing. If I was to get involved, which I don’t, I think I’d mostly be on the second team, and here is why.
A lot of people have been passing around this video, which is an advert for Always.
Now , I stand by the message of the video completely, and I think it’s an excellent way of getting that message across. The fact that it has gone viral says it all about the quality of the statement. The thing I have an issue with is the very last line, which I think completely decimates everything the video is trying to achieve. Feminism should be about equality, and destroying a phrase which positions a girl as weak and a valid insult, is great. So why, oh God why, must they end it by saying
Why can’t “run like a girl” also mean “win the race”?
Oh I see what you did there Always. You took a great statement about equality, and at the last minute you snatched it away to replace it with “run like a girl” = the winner. So presumably then “run like a boy” (being the opposite) now = loser. So what you’re doing is falling into the trap of militant feminism which is essentially just female dominance, and has no relationship with equality at all.
I know I’m taking it a little far, and I know that’s not how the final phrase was meant, but I really stand by my argument that this is not feminism at its best at all. Enter my next gripe – this article which popped up on my Facebook news feed today. The URL reads “can a feminist be a bride”. On seeing that, I had only one thought in mind. Yes. A feminist can be exactly what she wants to be, that’s literally the whole point. Apparently, however, Laura Bates felt she ran into more trouble than that.
I have innumerate issues with the article, but it boils down to the point I’ve just made. Feminism has worked hard over the last century to get one thing – equal rights for women. So if you want to propose to your boyfriend, do it. It’s your right. If he says yes, then great. If he has a problem with you proposing, you need to address that before you decide to marry the guy. Obvious, no? “But Sally, what about when people ask him how he did it?”…Are you serious? Just tell them. We live in a modern world where no-one should be surprised by independent women doing whatever they want.
Similarly, you may feel somewhat bullied and diminished by signs in bridal shops talking about sizing et cetera, but if you do, it’s because you’re letting yourself feel that way. I personally hold the view that everyone should strive for general fitness, and that often means getting thinner. If you’re happy to not do that, then go you, but I understand why current beauty standards hold us to be thin, and I support them to some extent because for many people, thinner means healthier. So don’t be surprised if you are asked how much weight you plan on losing for your wedding – it’s something wedding dress shops deal with all the time, and it’s a relevant question. Similarly, signs making it clear that extra adjustments will be costly are not “bullying” they are “necessary”. That work costs money, and to be honest it’s probably mostly women who enter the store as a raging “I won’t change for anybody” feminist who need these adjustments most, when they decide a month before the wedding that there is a person they’d change for, and it’s them-self.
Finally, and I think this encompasses all of the other aspects of the article, yes, historically a lot of wedding traditions are a bit patriarchal and antiquated. Know what, I’m probably going to do a bunch of them anyway, because I like them, and I like the all-round wedding image. And anything I do, I’ll do with the consent and support of my fiancee, and I won’t do anything that he’s not keen on. That will result in the perfect wedding – an equal one, where if someone asks why I went along with a “non-feminist” tradition, I can say “because WE wanted to” and where he can say the same if he’s challenged about something.
The key take-away from this long ramble on my part is that in the face of a new, and more equal world (though not entirely equal, and we should still fight for equality on all levels), so-called feminists are absolutely not speaking for the majority of women any more, because the majority of woman are now making informed, independent and personal decisions about their lives. There are still a host of causes to support, and I hope that in future people will learn to focus on them, rather than imposing their views on others. That’s happened before, and we all know how well it goes…