I want to believe in Feminism, I really do. As a woman it seems logical that I would. Google defines Feminism as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes.” Well I’m on board with that one, who wouldn’t be? But if you look at a one liner on Communism, “a theory or system of social organisation in which all property is owned by the community and each person contributes and receives according to their ability and needs.” Again this seems reasonable, but the reality of the situation is not a one liner. By the way, I am NOT comparing feminism to communism, I use this purely as an example.
So what do I find confusing about feminism? Where do I start?! The open door thing for one. Since when did women decide it was offensive for a man to hold the door open for them? What exactly is the issue? Is this meant to be seen as patronising? Surely not! Seeing as women have been able to open doors by themselves for hundreds of years, this hardly seems right. Any woman who can drag shopping bags and a buggy through a heavy door, surely is capable of opening a door with two hands. The only problem I have ever suffered with doors is pulling on a push door and vice versa, but then we all have that from time to time.
You can also work this the other way. If I open a door and see a man behind me, if I hold the door for him, am I seen as making him appear effeminate and insulting his masculinity? Does this extend to holding a lift door when you see someone rushing to get there in time? I find it insanely rude when someone of either sex slams a door in my face. I really dislike the idea that if a man goes to hold a door open for me as is his first thought, his second is whether I will give him a mouthful for doing so. It is basic good manners.
My next issue with feminism is the fight for equality. In the UK we have the best equality laws on the planet. OK, yes, there has been the topical news about women made to wear high heels in the work place and I admit I find this abhorrent and would willingly add my voice to a petition or such like against this, but the very reason this has come up and made the news is because it is rare. Most work places ask that you respect a dress code and this is fair. If you work in a shop, fast food establishment, air stewardess for example, you have a uniform you are expected to wear. My first job was working at WHSmith and the uniform was a horrible cheap material and deeply unflattering. I am lucky now that my job is not customer-facing so I can wear jeans, trainers and a jumper to work, but I have to admit the days I put on a dress and nice boots with a small heel, I do feel more empowered and feminine. Similarly if I go to a meeting I do dress up and the feet get a pounding. I envy men not having to wear heels but then I hate the idea of having to wear a suit, so I let it go. It’s so nice to go to a summer wedding and wear a cool dress rather than full suit as the men must do. I also remember the pitiful excuse for a school uniform I was made to wear – red, grey and white; I and the other school kids all blended in with the Wilts & Dorset, as was, bus company! Furthermore every time I sat in the bath after I came out in horrible lumps on my arms and legs. To this day I still won’t wear a shirt with a collar!
So my answer to a boss that makes you do that? The same as a boss that takes you for granted, demoralises you, passes you over for promotion or just plain forgets you exist -look for another job! It doesn’t happen overnight but no one has to put up with working somewhere they are not respected and encouraged.
While we’re on the subject of the workplace, it feels right to bring up the equal pay debate. Again I don’t believe this has so much to do with saying if we hire a man we pay full, if we hire a woman we pay less. There are too many employment laws now for this to happen on a regular basis. Let’s play out a situation. Say four women all do the same role in the same company, but maybe they don’t get paid the same. Is this inequality? Maybe, but maybe not. Maybe Woman 1 has worked there longer than the others and is better at her job, maybe she trained the other three women in the role. Maybe Woman 2 has only been at the company several months and is still on her probationary period so too soon to look at a pay review. Woman 3 has just come back from maternity leave. She has already had two children in the four years of working at the company and is now pregnant again. Either the manager had to hire someone else to do her role in her absence or the other women in the team were/are expected to take on the extra work. As a result the woman has not been around for all the training and the pay review. And finally Woman 4. Maybe she is the first to call in sick, the one taking a few too many cigarette breaks in the day, the one in late, the one who makes all the mistakes. Would you want Woman 4 to be paid the same as you if you were part of this team?
My next confusion with feminism is the recent Women’s March that happened around the world. I am really at a loss as to why this took place. I thought initially it was to show Donald Trump that women were more than just girls who he could abuse, but that message was lost. I expected to see banners united on this front, but instead when I watched the news the banners were focused on sexualising women further talking vaginas and pussies (I hate both words!) and many of the banners were about anything the women marching didn’t like, including Brexit and other political figures. Woman have come so far from sitting in the home, cooking, cleaning and raising children. Surely it would have been far better to have banners depicting all the famous women in our history who have changed the world. Surely the focus should have been on our brains and not between our legs. Madonna standing up preaching hate didn’t make me proud to be a woman. Instead this march seemed more like a fun girl’s day out.
Also, why women only? Are we saying our ONLY issue with Donald Trump is the way he treats women? Is he otherwise an ok guy? There were many American men who were appalled to find out that Trump rather than Clinton were headed to the White House, but apparently this is irrelevant. There is no men’s march, so is the insinuation that women voted for Hilary and men for Donald?! I am so pleased not to be American and to have a voting card on this one, but if I had I would not have voted for Hilary just because she is a woman. You vote on the principles not the sex. Hilary behaved just as badly to women who accused Bill of sexual abuse. They were paid off and ridiculed by her. No feminism there! If the march had been to raise money for women’s abuse charities as well as having a clear message, I think I would have had some respect, alas the message was lost.
Lastly, for feminism to matter we cannot cherry pick the issues we have. We are lucky in the UK to live in an accepting country, but if feminists really want equality then what about the girls forced to go to countries like Pakistan and marry much older men who use them and rape them seeing them as their property? All this on girls sometimes not even twelve years old. What about the countries where women are made to wear burkas and are not allowed to go out without a chaperone or risk severe punishments? They are not allowed to work or choose what they wear and how they look, they must be covered up at all times least a man sees even an inch of her ankle and is overcome. What about the agony of female circumcision, or the fact that India still thinks raping a girl whose older brother or sister has married outside of his caste, is a justified punishment? And what about the girls whose mother’s feel forced to use breast ironing? How desperate to know you must deform your daughter’s body and cause her pain just to stop her body looking like a woman and her being married off to someone who you know will abuse them. Who speaks for them?
Suddenly a man opening a door for a women seems truly petty.
#Feminism #WomensMarch #WomenEquality #Politics #Workplace