I am not afraid to call myself feminist – and to be honest I’ll probably think a little bit less of you (especially if you’re a man) if you cringe at the word yourself. About a year ago I decided a good way to judge male character would be to imagine to what degree they would or would not be comfortable wearing this t-shirt in public:
Now don’t freak out – its not about making anyone feel guilty. I actually don’t think I would wear this t-shirt as I don’t like wearing any clothing with writing on it. Its about the fact that around the world the statistics don’t lie and how you relate yourself to them. Women earn less than men for doing the same work. They do most of the world’s labour for substantially smaller share of the wealth. They bear children – and that shit hurts man! They are more likely to be victim of violence or sexual abuse than men.
Feminism is complicated – especially modern feminism in the developed world. Its been long enough now we’ve forgotten the major victories (flawed as they are): financial self-determination, career emancipation, independence. Its not ‘cool’ to be a feminist anymore – and the areas where the movement borders on the mainstream colours everything else. Yes I am a feminist who also shaves her legs and wears makeup and lets boys pay on the first date sometimes and that doesn’t somehow make me a hypocrite thankyouverymuch.
But I will ask myself: would they wear the t-shirt?
I struggle with where we’re at now. While I love the backlash against slut-shaming and movement for sex-positivity in women, we’re still struggling for basic access to contraception and we have embraced gender roles for children and the sexualisation of young girls in a way that makes me uncomfortable.
But today this website made me smile and remember we’re still working hard and its important to enjoy the victories we’ve had. www.athousandreasons.com came organically out of international woman’s day when Linda Grant tweeted about why feminism still matters to her – thousands of examples were suddenly being tweeted everywhere.
The case for feminism is easy. My favourite is the economic case: without empowered women a country is limiting its own economic potential by keeping half its workforce at home. When women earn money they are more likely to spend it on items for their children or that improve the home – ensuring children are well fed and educated. I could go on and on and on.
Feminism matters because less than 50 years ago women couldn’t get a credit card, loan or mortgage with the signature of a man, because women were told what to wear and what jobs to have, because in this day and age women are still seen too often as secretaries and not professionals. Women who could be working can’t afford childcare. Women cant access contraception to ensure they plan, want and love all their children.
So would you wear the t-shirt?