Dropping the “F”-bomb

A couple of weeks ago, I heard a few simple words spill out my friend’s mouth which I never thought I would be too shocked to hear yet by which I was completely taken aback. Those words?

“I’m not a feminist.”

Each word, innocuous on its own, combining to form a definitive sentence with a surprising sting at its core.

I pride myself on my ability to accept the opinions of others, but feminism is an issue close to my heart and as such, I found this revelation from one of my closest friends slightly unpalatable.

“Why?!”, another friend and I gasped, in horror.

“I don’t understand why it’s still an issue – women are pretty damn equal with men now!”

Stop. Stop right there. This is exactly why progress in society’s attitude is slow and requires constant pressure for any change to take effect. There is not only one taboo “F word” – “feminism” is still seen as a dirty word by many people, who are under the impression that the feminist movement is all about hating men and fighting – often very rudely and aggressively, in the mind of those who believe these stereotypes – for equal pay, the vote etc. So these issues may be resolved, or at least almost resolved, in our developed world, but let’s get some perspective here.

There are women being stoned to death in the Middle East for driving, for choosing their own romantic partners. There are women, frequently from central and eastern Europe, dancing provocatively and being leered at in Amsterdam, forced into making a living from their bodies as a result of trafficking, yet being seen as some cheap, tourist gimmick. There are young girls in war-torn states who must risk their lives just trying to better their quality of life and prospects by going to school. There are women, worldwide, having words of hate rammed down their throats, telling them they were to blame for their sexual assault, whether it be because of their clothing, alcohol consumption or simply because they were being friendly towards men.

Let that sink in for a moment.

Feminism isn’t some local coup which can easily be solved by allowing women the power to tick a box on a sheet, or to collect a fatter paycheck than once was possible. It’s much bigger than that. It’s a global issue which we all – men and women alike – must push for every day. The fact that we still have songs like ‘Blurred Lines’ highlights this. Catchy as it may be (and I will confess that yes, even I have downloaded it), how is it possible that such morally ambiguous songs are still the norm in pop culture? It’s not just in music: films, sports, websites, you name it – there’s still an overwhelming attitude that females exist for the sole purpose of pleasing males. On the flip side of the coin, there are films targeted at women which celebrate being powerful and sexy and having men wrapped around one’s little finger (Sex and the City, I’m looking at you!), but let’s be honest – while these films are empowering and often enjoyable, they often err on the side of portraying women as being somehow better than men. Again, this isn’t what feminism is about. It’s about us all being equal and gender being removed from the equation.

In an ideal world, we wouldn’t need feminism, but the reality is, the world is not some middle-class, white-washed, first-world town.

It’s a beautiful yet tainted minefield of inequality. We can only tackle the issues if we’re willing to remove the cotton wool from over our eyes, or, if necessary, have it ripped off to reveal the harsh reality that lies before us.


4 thoughts on “Dropping the “F”-bomb

  1. Aye, because men have it so easy. Not like I could be falsely accused of rape, be sentenced and have my life ruined.
    Women are far more likely to fulfil higher education. Two thirds of those in special education are male.
    And to top it off, male rape victims are consistently laughed off, demeaned and told the only services that they provide are for women. Be egalitarian, rather than feminist

    1. Actually, the principle of feminism is to seek equality – it’s a common misconception among those who aren’t feminists that we think womens’ rights should be put above those of men, and exactly what I’m arguing against here. Obviously I only have experience of it from a woman’s point of view, so that is the perspective I wrote this from. If you read carefully, I do actually acknowledge that feminism is about equality: “Again, this isn’t what feminism is about. It’s about us all being equal and gender being removed from the equation.”

      I agree with you that men have problems too, but I think you’ve read into this the wrong way.

  2. Hi, interesting post. To be fair, feminism as a term is essentially meaningless: it can’t with any real specificity define a particular ideological position. I say this because the word has taken on meanings in a variety of contexts that are only somewhat related to one another.

    For example, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to say, “I’m not a feminist – but I support women’s rights.” Or, “I am a feminist, but I think gender as a social construct should be replaced entirely.” And so forth.

    It may seem like an odd quibble with your post, but what I’m trying to highlight is a sort of obsession among (well-intentioned and probably intelligent) people who think that calling oneself by the right labels, adopting the right buzzwords and saying the right things at the right moments can advance some ideological agenda.

    But it can’t. Words matter – but only so much. Labels such as “feminist,” particularly because of their political nature, demand that their meaning take a backseat to their function.

    The danger is not only that young people who support certain political positions related to sex and gender will eventually take on political identities they do not understand, it is that the public at large will succumb to an understanding of issues within this false framework.

    Anyway, interesting post! Just wanted to give you some food for thought.

    1. Interesting thoughts, thank you! I agree that the function of the word and the action are more important than throwing words around and adopting certain attitudes to conform to a label, but it is certainly easier to use one word than try and explain your points of views. It’s more an effective way of summarising your opinions. Besides, feminism is so commonly mininterpreted as “women are superior to men!” that it’s often necessary to explain what you mean by it anyway, so it’s often pretty difficult to describe yourself as a feminist if your reasoning behind the label isn’t convincing.

      To be honest, this was more a post to rant against those who believe that action promoting gender equality is unnecessary, because in their molly-coddled experience, inequality is a thing of the past. I’m from a small town in very middle-class area where unfortunately that attitude is common.


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