Now can we get on to the bloody point? A list of 21 Feminist (really) FAQs.

I’ve recently become knackered with having the same arguments, with the same types of people, about the same points regarding Feminism.

Now, I’m not an expert, other than I come equipped with reproductive parts and therefore a propensity to get accidentally oppressed, but many other women are. They have studied and worked in the boggy, mine-covered field of feminism for years. And yet they are having to constantly re-tread the last 100 steps of the argument each time they want to begin to think about possibly tabling a motion to draw up an agenda for a meeting to scope out a workshop for the 101st flipping point.

And that workshop involves either a) having to achieve, ‘buy-in’ from all the men who will assume it’s their workshop (please see Ally Fogg’s entire body of work to illustrate this point) or b) watch your point get stolen from one of them. (consider how these women felt. Or the women who campaigned against the Rochdale sex-abuse cover-up before the male journalist ‘uncovered’ it. etc etc etc).

It’s taking too long and whilst we dick* about doing this, society is going to hell in a handcart. I’m not going to say, ‘women are suffering’, because I presume if you’re reading this, you’re as yet unconvinced. And even if you are convinced, it’s actually more than the women who suffer. The men who love them suffer. The men who don’t want to be cast into roles they don’t identify with suffer. But yes. Mainly it’s the women. So I’ll round up from AT LEAST 51% of the population to the nearest 100. Ok?

So, why the need to keep making the same points? If it affects over half the population, surely it’s self-evident? Let’s have a go.

The point of feminism is to liberate women from a patriarchal system that oppresses them, through relegating them to the subordinate ‘gender’.

Or, colloquially – males get to build and run the world, women get fucked and make the sandwiches.

And here we get to the rub.

‘Not all men!’

‘What about Margaret Thatcher?’

‘Just give it up. You’ve got equality. What more do you want?’

‘Some women like getting heckled in the street!’

‘Men die younger!’

And so, women again get worn down, repeating, repositioning, reframing the same arguments, and occasionally winning small** battles when the sheer logic of the argument, or the lack of any visible drawback leaves detractors nowhere to go. (Mothers’ names on marriage certificates is a good example here.)

But mostly, the battles are not won. We don’t have gender equality in the workplace** yet. We are suffering towering rates of sexual violence. We are being killed at a rate of more than two a week. Our girls are having their genitals mutilated. We aren’t anywhere near represented in the media, arts, politics, financial institutions or any other which shapes our lives.

But despite these injuries, we have to suffer the insult of explaining, not our methods for righting these wrongs, but THE FACT THAT WE EVEN WANT TO RIGHT THEM.

So. Given that we live in a gender-orientated world, I’m going to write this in the style I’ve been socialised to believe will appeal to my target audience – men. That’s right – it’s a list. If you like, it’s a list a bit like a takeaway menu.

And women – from now on, just quote a number on it and save your energy. We’ve got stacks to do.

FAQs

1 ‘Not All Men’
  • Thank you for pointing out that 49% of the population aren’t identical in characteristics. (This is actually something quite close to our hearts so it’s great you’re on board with that principle)-
  • ‘Men’ here is being used as a class; the dominant, global class.
  • ‘Redheads tend to burn’. ‘Long-legged people are good at long jump’. ‘Lions kill people’. Not the ones wearing SPF100, on crutches or that nice one called Christian that the gay chaps in the 70s reared. Respectively. Hope you get the point.
2 ‘Men don’t run the world. What About Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel or Hillary Clinton?’
  • These women succeeded in a man’s world. In so doing, they saw very little of their children, live(d) with their appearance being constantly under scrutiny, suffered misogyny in the press and every day at work and are quoted constantly exactly as you have, precisely because they’re not the norm.
  • This was this year’s Nato summit. Tell me if you spot anything unusual. Anything at all.

nato-4september-2014

3 ‘You’ve got equal rights. What more do you want?’
  • Despite legislation, there is still a 17.5% pay gap, only 7 of 150 elected heads of state in the world are women, and only 11 of 192 heads of government.
  • See here for why it matters and if you struggle with making connections between bad things and bad feelings.
4 ‘Page 3 models are celebrating their bodies. Why shouldn’t they? Good luck to them.’
  • Some women do choose to do naked or topless modelling or films and that is indeed their choice. But IMO, in a patriarchal, celebrity driven society some of them choose this because they believe the path to self-worth to be paved with sexy intentions and that’s a shame, in many ways.
  • Also, sexy pics don’t exist in a vacuum. They’re in Tesco, your garage, the office wall. Which is why my five year old cried in the supermarket that she was worried what she’d do if she didn’t grow big boobs. Tell me that’s ok, then tell me where you live and I’ll come round and punch you.
5 ‘Violence isn’t gendered. What about men who get abused?’
  • Some men are abused by women. Many, many, many, many, many more women are abused by men. That’s the fact of it, and that’s what we mean by saying, ‘it has a gender bias.’
  • 43,869 sexual offences were recorded by police in England and Wales in 2011/12.
  • In the same year:
    • 96.7% of cautions issues for sexual offences were to males
    • 98.2% of prosecutions for sexual offences were against males
    • 99% of convictions for those found guilty of sexual offences were male

If you don’t like these facst, take it up with the Police, the CPS, the ONS or really knock yourself and take it to the UN. You’ll hear the same story.

  • Violence against women has been called “the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world.” Accordingly, the Vienna Human Rights Conference and the Fourth World Conference on Women gave priority to this issue, which jeopardizes women’s lives, bodies, psychological integrity and freedom.
  • An extremely pertinent blog by expert Karen Ingala Smith summarises these facts. She works in this field, day in, day out. You probably don’t. So have a look here.
6 ‘Don’t say you’re under-represented on telly. What about Loose Women?’
  • For every female character on a British TV show, there are 2 men. 7% of British Film Directors are women. Over 70% of the performances at Glastonbury are men. Women make up less than 30% of the news stories. (source here). Your point about Loose Women is a really shite one.
  • Using US figures, In 2013-14, women comprised 27% of all individuals working as creators, directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and directors of photography. This represents a decrease of 1 percentage point from 2012-13. Full report here

 

7 ‘Why are you so obsessed with, ‘genitals’??’
  • Misogyny against women has always been rooted in a simultaneous disgust in our reproductive, ‘ways’ (Periods. Gross. Go squat in a wood) and an overbearing propensity to control them. (Consider chastity belts to vanishing abortion rights. Get your hands off my uterus. It’s mine).   Furthermore, certain genitals have been used to rape us, from partners exerting control, to the calculated use in warfare. If I may be so bold – it’s not us who’s obsessed with genitals. It’s fucking you lot.
8 ‘You are though. That’s why you’re horrible to Trans Women.’
  • There is no justification to be horrible to another human being trying to navigate their way as best they can through a system that prioritises Masculinity.
  • And there is also no justification in denying point 7 above – it’s unacceptable to disallow an oppressed group to describe their oppression, or to name it in their own language. Many decent people recognise that we are dealing with the overlapping circles of a Venn Diagram with both parties dealing with common oppressions and also those particular to their group.
9 ‘Why are you obsessed with language? It’s just words. Ffs.’
  • Is language the parent of thought or the child? i.e. Can you actually think anything at all without silently imagining the word to go with it? Think of this (sorry):

JC-1

  • You thought of a name. Or possibly a word. Either way, you can’t think without language. It is the Parent of Thought. If language impacts thought, it impacts behaviour. A woman, ‘chairman?’ How funny. Of course it’s funny – you have been conditioned to believe people who chair meetings are men. So if you don’t mind, we would like to be represented in a way that’s accurate. Accuracy’s good, right? So could we possibly avoid things like, ‘man power’, (reinforces that it’s men who do the heavy lifting) ’‘bird’ or, ‘chick’ for woman, (fluffy, compliant), and, whilst I’ve got you, ‘gash’? (see point 7 then have a fucking word with yourself)
10 ‘Why can’t men be feminists?’
  • Because you can’t. Ok? Listen to Sociologist Dr Brian Klocke. He seems to get it. “Although I believe that men can be pro-feminist and anti-sexist, I do not believe we can be feminists in the strictest sense of the word. Men, in this patriarchal system, cannot remove themselves from their power and privilege in relation to women. To be a feminist one must be a member of the targeted group (i.e a woman) not only as a matter of classification but as having one’s directly-lived experience inform one’s theory.”
  • Yeah. LIVED EXPERIENCE. Just like I can’t be left-handed or asthmatic but only want good things for the people who are. Be supportive. Just don’t try to own it. You’ve got everything else, ffs.

 

11 ‘Why can’t you respect Sex Workers? You’re trying to control female sexuality (you frigid bitch, delete as applicable)’
  • Sex-work, or prostitution, is what some women do. Some choose to do it, many are forced into it. Feminists respect all these women – they are women battling their way through a set of disadvantages which is the lot of the subordinate gender of this world.
  • Criticising an industry which commoditises women’s bodies, and a culture which accepts this as part of life’s rich tapestry is entirely different to telling women how to express their sexuality. Obviously.
12 ‘Yes but men are hardwired to be hunter gatherers. Women are biologically pre-set to raise babies’. Three points.

  1. The battle still rages over whether male and female brains are different. However, as this chap helpfully points out, “Although a study of brain scans has an air of biological purity, it doesn’t escape from the reality that the people having their brains scanned are the product of social and cultural forces as well as biological ones.” So unless you put two sample groups in hermetically sealed boxes, away from all cultural influences, we’ll never know.
  2. Gender studies have often focused on diverse cultures to demonstrate that when gender roles are reversed, everyone does fine thank you very much.
  3. It’s bloody 2014! Even if you believe that our brains are different, even if you question the methodology that seems to prove gender roles can be reversed, we no longer hunt and gather, do we? Nor do we knock out a babby every year until the blessed menopause arrives. We use knives and forks to eat our food. We drive around in cars, wearing nice clothes. We sit in offices and stare at screens. Yeah. Can really see why splitting hairs over chromosome differences in a handful of neural nerve-endings is so vital here. Stop trying to assign an innate essence to everything and consider how you could probably bring up a chimp to behave like a girly girl, given enough pink toile, Claire’s Accessories and X Factor.
13 ‘Why are you bothering with (insert campaign) when FGM is going on in this country?’
  • You know that broken window you’ve got upstairs? Leave it. It’s not that important when you’ve got the whole of the downstairs to replaster and paint.

 – But the elements are getting in!

–  Don’t worry about that, you daftie! You’ve got floors to lay, walls to strip, pipes to re-route.

–   But now it’s all wet in there and everything’s gone to shit!

–   Yeah.

 

14 ‘You get it easy! I’d like to have drinks bought for me, doors held open, the opposite sex lusting after me!’
  • Unequal pay,
  • Unequal access to education
  • A lack of reproductive choices
  • Political non-representation
  • FGM
  • Rape culture
  • Perpetual threat of violence
  • Fewer life opportunities…

Fancy swapping?

15 ‘Oh come on. A wolf whistle in the street is flattering!’ Oy darling! Nice tits!        OY. DARLING! What’s got up your nose? Fucking bitch. Old too. You should be gratefulFuck you. You deserve to be given a good seeing to. Take that look off your face.Not exactly Mr Bingley courting Jane Bennett, is it.
16 ‘You’re taking it all too personally. Don’t get so overemotional.’ –          See 14. Then stfu.
17 ‘Oh God. You’re not a feminist are you? A grumpy man-hater?’
  • Here’s something that is so bloody obvious yet seems to defeat a ton of men. Loads of feminists are mothers. (because that’s when the disadvantages go next level. Believe me.)
  • About half of these, statistically, will be mothers to boys. They probably had those boys after sex with their male partner. Before ringing their Dads to tell them the news.
  • Before getting married, it is highly likely they shagged other men and quite enjoyed it.
  • Lesbian feminists do not get a free pass either. They often have fathers, sometimes sons too. Maybe brothers! And maybe, male friends.

This is a goddamn lazy argument that makes fuck all effort to engage with the points in number 14. Only in a deeply sexist society would women campaigning for equality be described as, ‘man-hating.’

Fuck off.

18 ‘Why won’t you call yourself cis? It’s just a word. It’s Latin! It means, ‘over here’. It just means you identify with your gender assigned to you at birth! Do you object to, ‘heterosexual’ as well?’
  • Cis is indeed a Latin word which means the opposite of trans (over here vs over there)
  • Point one – before smugly telling a feminist that, consider the possibility that she has studied languages and maybe even understands Latin.
  • Then, consider the point that she is a feminist and therefore has an uneasy relationship with the gender she was assigned at birth. By fucking definition. Her sexed body – hopefully not. Her ‘gender’ – the set of social demands and expectations that automatically put her below the male class because she has a vagina (see point 7 again – this is your obsession, not ours) is problematic. So assigning a name for an ‘identification’ with this, when there is none, is not cool.
  • Consider whether this insistence happens with any other group. Black people now often describe themselves as POC. That arose from that community as a positive choice. Disabled people often describe themselves as, ‘differently abled’. I get that. Women though apparently need a qualifier and one which has been suggested to them by another group, to boot.
  • Trans is an incredibly broad umbrella term for everything from dysphoria, to occasionally cross-dressing socially. If you would like all women who aren’t, ‘trans’ to define themselves as an opposite to something, especially given the painful history of millennia of oppression, then that opposite has to be defined within an inch of its life.
  • Some women are happy to call themselves, ‘cis’, especially in a medical context. Others aren’t, for personal, painful reasons as alluded to above. That choice should be respected. In my opinion. And this is my blog so that’s what you’re getting.
19 ‘If women are so at risk of attack, why don’t you take steps to protect yourself, like self-defence?’
  • Being practical is carrying on your life, how you can, without apology and drawing attention to men’s behaviour. Avoidant behaviour does not increase women’s safety from men, it just means that man passes on to the next women. We cannot live our lives as if we’re prey in the jungle and we won’t.
  • For some people however, exercise is key to feeling more powerful in themselves, and this is a choice some women make.
  • Except. Many women can’t practice, ‘meaningful’ self-defence. Consider elderly women, disabled women, women who can’t leave the home because their husband won’t let them.
  • It is more helpful if you let those women who wish to practice self-defence do so and fair play to them, but plan for the most vulnerable. And that means eradicating the source of the problem, not treating the symptoms.
20 ‘It wasn’t real rape. She was inebriated. She asked for it. It wasn’t violent’.
  • Consider, if you’re a man, being completely plastered, ruined, drunk. And groggily becoming aware that a person is holding you down and inserting a large, hard object into your anus. After all, you may have had bum-sex before. Many people find it erogenous. You asked for it, you were hammered. Didn’t you?
  • For a woman, who has lived her whole life feeling anything from a breeder to a or sex-toy to permanently ogled, demeaned and handled: If a man puts a hard piece of his person inside a woman, reaching her most personal, private space when she doesn’t want him to – it is violence. And bloody obscene.
21 ‘Why do you call yourself a feminist, not an equalist?’
  • Feminism has to focus on liberating women. Because they’re the ones who need liberating. Hence feminism.

feminist

  • Racism and Sexism combined is a double bind. Hence for many feminists:

black feminism

This is a work in progress! Coming soon:

  • What to say to mansplainers..
  • Answers to, ‘why are you lot always fighting?’
  • Any others you think I’ve missed…..

 

 

 

*notice I didn’t say, ‘Fanny’. More on this in point 9

** small, because despite the change in legislation, the gender gap is widening in the UK

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14 thoughts on “Now can we get on to the bloody point? A list of 21 Feminist (really) FAQs.

  1. That’s my girl. Amazing, although I didn’t understand words like cis and so on it was a delightful, punchy rant. Now get out there and become the boss – anywhere!
    Dad

  2. With regards to “We’re not going to eradicate male violence overnight so we need to be practical. Safety comes before ideology”
    I got from point 19 as a whole, what was being said.
    BUT the first bit just made me want to categorically state: Practical is carrying on how you can, without apology, and drawing attention to men’s behaviour. Avoidant behaviour does not increase women’s safety from men. Circumstances and arbitrary situations do not cause the risk – men pose it. There is no practical way to prevent what is not our crime. (Not-out-alone-at-night? Man attacks someone else. And in the day. No one on the street? Attacks someone at their own home/at work/in a toilet. And it goes on).

    Safety measures only reify ideas of women as targets. Increasingly ridiculous codes of conduct mean you will always transgress anyway.
    Every woman will cope differently, so it is always best to focus ONLY ON MEN’S behaviour. Always.

    For anybody who thinks they are being kind, telling a woman to engage in safety rituals of any kind it is never practical. You are placing the onus for preventing unprovoked hate crime upon women. That is tacit incitement to rape, or other male violence. And it is pre-emptive victim blaming.

    • I do understand your point and tried to address it. Some women want to so self- defence for their own feelings of regaining power and i understand this and won’t tell them not to. But equally, and more to your point, there are millions of women for whom there is no option here. And the focus should be on the men. You’ve made me think and i may edit. Thank uou.

  3. With regards to “We’re not going to eradicate male violence overnight so we need to be practical. Safety comes before ideology”
    I got from point 19 as a whole, what was being said.
    BUT the first bit just made me want to categorically state, to apologists: Practical is carrying on how you can, without apology, and drawing attention to men’s behaviour. Avoidant behaviour does not increase women’s safety from men. Circumstances and arbitrary situations do not cause the risk – men pose it. There is no practical way to prevent what is not our crime. (Not-out-alone-at-night? Man attacks someone else. And in the day. No one on the street? Attacks someone at their own home/at work/in a toilet. And it goes on).

    Safety measures only reify ideas of women as targets. Increasingly ridiculous codes of conduct mean you will always transgress anyway.
    Every woman will cope differently, so it is always best to focus ONLY ON MEN’S behaviour. Always.

    For anybody who thinks they are being kind, telling a woman to engage in safety rituals of any kind it is never practical. You are placing the onus for preventing unprovoked hate crime upon women. That is tacit incitement to rape, or other male violence. And it is pre-emptive victim blaming.

  4. Oh God. I’m sorry, I was pointing to apologists who may read it and think that, not to you – because I absolutely did get your point. I kind of just extrapolated. But thank you for the update!

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