Friday, June 01, 2007

You take the high road, and I'll take the low road, and I'll be in SCOTLAND before you!

I haven't written in ages, but I've been busy and depressed (over the Champions League), but I'll blog proper on that issue soon....for now, I'm heading off to Scotland for the Young Ireland thingy, and as I mentioned, I had to write a speech for here it is, to keep you occupied!

Think of me reading it next week in front of the hordes (or whatever), sweat dripping down my forehead, hands trembling, stuttering over my words!

GOD, I love the smell of fear in the morning........

I am a Feminist

I’m gonna start with a little joke…
What do you call a woman who has lost 95% of her intelligence?

Now replace ‘woman’ with another race, creed or nationality. Suddenly it’s not so funny, is it? Why is it that our society has become so blasé about discrimination against women?

Is it because we have the vote now?
Have a choice in our profession?
Have successfully changed laws to include women?

These progressions give the impression that the woman’s movement is over. We should be happy with what we have, after all, and not rock that equality boat too much!

But how far have we really come? Why do we laugh at any jokes insulting women? Why do we think it’s funny when Britney Spears shaves her hair off, or are entertained when the Jordans of this world say something stupid?

The basic fact is that woman is still not equal. And yet, we have become ashamed of feminism – it has become the new ‘f-word’ that we lock away from ‘normal’ social intercourse.

Here’s another attempt at a joke:
What’s the quickest way to a man’s heart?
Through his chest with a knife!

And that is what’s wrong with feminism today – or, more accurately, with gender-feminism today. Is it any more acceptable that we laugh at jokes about men than if they are about women?

Gender-feminists like Sandra Bartky would have us believe that feminist consciousness is defined as a “consciousness of victimization…to come to see oneself as a victim”. Marilyn French implies that some men attacking some women is enough to tar the whole gender as oppressive, abusive and threatening. Suddenly, all feminist thought is boxed in with these extremists –as practising Muslims are grouped in with suicide bombers.

A feminist should not believe herself superior to man, and nor should she believe herself a constant victim. Once we get into the habit of seeing woman as a subjugated gender, we are primed to view men as repressors of women, and nothing else.

A feminist should be a humanist first, and recognise that though there are issues in the world relating directly to the bad treatment of women, not every issue is caused by man.

With gender-feminists, every subject is given a subjective and feminist basis of argument. Where can we go from there, if we have boxed these issues so tightly as a problem solely in the woman’s spectrum? The answer, of course, is nowhere.

Time spent discussing how the patriarchal society keeps us down, and, for example, forces us to be thin, would be better spent asking the question:
Who buys the magazines with the size 0 models?
Who delights in pictures of Misha Barton’s cellulite, or Sharon Stone’s wrinkles?

Feminism’s biggest challenge has reared its head in our ‘post’ woman’s-movement society – woman herself.

Gender-feminists ignore this divide. A gender-feminists calling card is her self-preoccupation. She simply doesn’t understand how inappropriate it is to talk of middle class struggles as though they apply to all women, in all walks of life.

Just look at the state of things today.
We are not united.
We have won no victory.
We don’t support each other as women.
We look down on the beauty queens, the page three models, the Southside bimbos, or the tracksuited Northsiders.
We have strayed away from the idea that we seek a similar goal, and are now in all-out battle with each other.

A feminist should strive for a society where we stop viewing each other as competition, and start viewing each other as sisters in a common cause. This is something that has become lost in the battle for ‘equality’, whatever that means now.

In all of this internal strife, we are ignoring the real war. I won’t throw statistics out, since ‘the devil can quote scripture for his own use’, but the facts do remain.
Women are still paid less than men for the same job.
Women still do the lion’s share of housework and childcare.
Women provide the majority of time in carer situations.
The burden of proof still rests so largely on a woman who has been raped that thousands of cases go unreported.
The buying and selling of sex is still common practice, and shows no sign of abating.
Women still make up the majority of people on the poverty line, with single mothers dominating the sector – which, of course, has the knock-on effect of creating further poverty in children.

All of these issues can and should be addressed by feminism.

The fact that I am standing here before you, speaking and being heard, is a testament to feminism. Without feminism, I would not have received enough education to formulate enough thoughts to consider changing my situation from a bad one to a good one. I would simply have accepted my situation as unchangeable.

And there is the core of feminism, and where its place is today. Ann Ferguson, an American University lecturer, sums it up that “the goal of feminist teaching is not only to raise consciousness about…[the] male domination system but also to create women and men who are agents of social change”.

And this is what a feminist should be – an agent of social change. We must change the culture of acceptance around sexism and discrimination. In work, if a man loses his temper, he’s a firebrand and a pistol. If a woman does the same, she is emotional and unstable. That company might have an equal opportunities employment procedure, but is this an equal environment for a woman to work in?

The idea that women and men hold an equal place in society is a western bourgeois myth. We blind ourselves with images of hard-nosed go-getting businesswomen, of Martha Stewarts and Oprah Winfreys.
We discount the rest of the world, and particularly ignore the ‘matriarchal’ repression occurring in other countries because we can only focus on the patriarchal oppression.
The fact that some women partake in the discrimination of other women is continuously ignored by gender feminists.

We see women in burkas, and call them oppressed, never taking the time to ask them if they actually are.
We condemn female mutilation, but don’t provide the education needed to curb its use.
We are disgusted by arranged marriages, but give little alternative to isolated immigrant families who find it hard to integrate.
We allow the laws to continue that keep a woman from leaving an abusive relationship, or reporting a rape.

Feminism is not a dirty word. Feminism is more alive now than ever, if we could just stop fighting internally and recognise ourselves as sisters and fellow humans in a common cause for equality.

Mary Wollstonecraft said that she did not wish women to have power over men, but over themselves. That is the way forward for the women’s movement.

I am not ashamed to be a feminist.
Just as I am not ashamed to be a woman.

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