I describe myself, a little reluctantly, as a feminist. I am reluctant because, as a newcomer, I’m sometimes not sure I want to qualify.
There was a particular moment for me, when I realized I harbour feminist tendencies… a colleague made a point that related directly to the glass ceiling and another (also female) immediately shot back the accusation of feminism. This caused the point-maker to recoil, as if smote. And in that moment I recognized myself and everything changed. I was able, for the first time, to separate myself from the fearful accusation of feminism and find my place as an supporter.
In my quest to find my own feminism, I happily read Caitlin Moran’s ‘How To Be A Woman’ and was relieved to read how broadly her net is cast. In Caitlin’s world, everyone is welcome. And because of this, she became (and remains) my point of departure.
As a feminist I am highly imperfect. I commit crimes against feminism, sometimes inadvertently or through habit, where I create realities in which the struggle to continue sexist oppression is apparent, all the time! What has changed now, is that I know I am not alone.
The phenomenon of women refusing the label is hardly new, but in my experience this disconnect does not necessarily reflect reality. Feminism is tangled in a contradiction: its name has become daggy but its central tenet of equal rights and equality is anything but. I live in that space. And that, combined with my fears and truths and transgressions, is why I am unsure of my qualifications.
The angle of feminist debate about which I am most certain I subscribe, is best expressed by Susan Douglas (Enlightened Sexism) who believes we have reached a state in which being decorative is the highest form of power available to women. This is a state which insists “now women have it all they should focus on being hot”. Yep. THAT I believe.
My goal is to find my own feminism, one that fits me but stretches my heart. One in which I am me, perhaps slightly better, but still me. One that allows me to move past the dread- fear of being too big, too loud, too hairy. A feminism in which I address my fear of becoming strident or, God forbid, smug! Says Woolf, “one is not born but becomes a woman…” How? By making of oneself some account by speaking…
FYI here is some reasons why I think I am a probably crap feminist:
• I feel compelled to explain why I am a probably crap feminist
• I only know ‘The Greatest Hits of Feminism’ rather than the back catalogue
• based on my experience as a woman whose weight has yo-yoed over the years, at the behest of good times and bad, I believe size and shape does matter *
• I don’t agree it should but I can’t pretend it’s not my truth
• I am a dreadful piker and sometimes the thought of going out can reduce me to a cold sweat
• I mention this because I imagine true feminists to be terrifically community minded. You know, joiners. Always showing up with organic salads to share and days to spare for family and friends in need. I am not like that at all. Bad feminist!
• I don’t go outside much. I’m more an indoors kinda gal. I don’t know if this affects my feminist rating but I mention it just in case
• When it comes it news/current affairs/geography/action films I find it hard to retain key facts
• But I’m fit to burst with trivia about music, film, style and beauty. Bad feminist!
*the actions I try to take against thin-think include: I do not weigh myself. I do not diet. I do not participate ‘I’m so fat’ bonding. I do not concern troll the weight loss of others. I do not entrap my boyfriend into answering closed questions about my appearance. I do not make body-centric comments, out loud, But old habits die hard and I sometimes do all of the above.