Archive | August, 2011

Are we marmite?

15 Aug

So we have the vote, check. We are eligible to attend top universities, check. We have the rights to get an abortion, check. Did this come lightly? No. Women struggled and took up fights which were unconventional at the time and deeply disliked by the status quo. These women were known as feminists.

Do we take for granted all that they fought for? Yep, pretty much. Very few of us associate ourselves with feminism and would ever want to be associated with feminism. According to a Gallup poll taken in June 2001 poll, 25% of American women identified themselves as feminists. As Levy writes in her excellent book ‘Female Chauvinist Pigs’, ‘the term “feminism” has fallen further and further out of favour.’

So we are not only faced with contempt from the usual suspects, the men, which I will get to later, but from a rather unusual suspect too. There are plenty of women who show utter disinterest in the idea on one end to outright disdain on the other.

Within my demographic, 20-30 year olds, I can count on one hand the number of women I know who would proudly proclaim to be feminists, and yet every woman I know reaps the rewards of battles previously fought throughout history by feminists. They vote, they go to university, they expect to have the right to an abortion, a voice, equal pay, equal access to employment. The list goes on, but they don’t want to put that proud label on themselves as they feel it’s tainted.

I was at a feminist conference this weekend and even within a room of ‘feminists’ we were again having the debate of whether we should perhaps abandon the term….perhaps call ourselves Bootylicious instead (as per the suggestion of the great academic and feminist theorist, our very own Beyoncé). Although I do, to be fair, think that perhaps this last notion was made in jest only. We would definitely be doing men a favour if we were to abandon this difficult and intimidating term.

Generally speaking, across the globe, men hate feminism. The vitriolic hatred of some men on the topic of feminism is quite astounding, I started reading the comments on various YouTube clips and it was quite frankly painful, no eyes should have to see those kinds of words and that much rage. Even on a wonderful video called ‘This is What a Feminist Looks Like’ by www.feminist.org someone has written ‘Throw these man hating bigots in jail!’.

In fact, when looking at the rating for this totally neutral and inoffensive clip and I see that there are 1,419 likes, 1,517 dislikes it makes me think that there probably is no other topic out there which is as divisive and polarizing as feminism, both amongst women and men, alike.

So given this reality, perhaps comparing feminism to marmite is a little too optimistic and perhaps we’re not quite there yet. Right now there’s a little too much of the hating, and certainly not enough of the loving. Or even if love isn’t what we are after, then certainly there isn’t enough understanding, respect, gratitude, and frankly, awe for what feminism was, is, and can be.