For as long as I have been alive, I have never played witness to such an outpouring of women coming forward to share their experiences of living in an unequal world. In 2018, it shocks me that these imbalances still exist. As more and more women have come forward, I have begun to recognise that I seem to be one of the very fortunate few to have never felt harassed or belittled in any way because of my gender. The fact that this in itself is a rarity is greatly troubling. I’ve become deeply disturbed by the allegations arising from the #metoo campaign and I genuinely groaned in disbelief at former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie’s recent resignation over the gender pay gap debacle. Yet despite all the inequality, I’m also heartened by the courage of these women who have stood up to those who would take advantage of them, sharing their stories so bravely and eloquently. I support them with earnest and endeavour to do my part to uplift them always.
However, as with many things, I’m inclined to say that we may have gone too far. I read the recent story of the woman on the Virgin train who was called ‘Honey’ by a rather sarky train conductor. Now, I acknowledge that this woman experienced bad customer service, but I found myself incredulous as I continued reading her tweet: Is ‘honey’ really that offensive that it deserves national press attention? I didn’t find it offensive at all. Perhaps being perpetually single has skewed my boundaries, meaning that I will construe any term of endearment as flattering (even if it is from an unenlightened train conductor). However, I am reading stories like this with increasing indignant dismissal, which brings me to the question in hand: Am I shit feminist? Scrap that, am I even a feminist?
My experience with feminism has been tenuous to say the least. With the introduction of Jodie Whittaker as the thirteenth Doctor, I was a little miffed (despite being a fan of hers). I would have preferred a male actor – but that’s just my opinion and I think she’ll be great regardless. This didn’t stem from a misogynistic viewpoint, rather that of someone who simply doesn’t like a lot of change. Naturally, I voiced this opinion on Twitter, only for an article written for Bustle entitled ‘The Infuriating Reason Some Female ‘Doctor Who’ Fans Are Upset About The New Doctor’ to feature my tweet and completely misrepresent my view. Whilst I respected the content of the article, I thought it was unfair to make swathing assumptions about my views on femininity which, by the way, are completely different to the ones identified in the article. “If that’s feminism” I thought ignorantly, “I don’t want any part of it”.
Different people seem to have different interpretations of what feminism means (which, if you ask me, is a dangerous practice considering that many hate crimes often stem from misunderstanding). Additionally, as a twenty-something woman, I often feel pressured to share my status as a feminist, presumably by climbing a large skyscraper and beating on my chest like King (or is it Queen) Kong, declaring my feminism for all to hear. But how can I do this legitimately without having it mean something to me, or worse, ending up in Bustle again as the arch anti-feminist of the world? So I did what any millennial worth their salt would do and I googled feminism. As always, good ol’ Wikipedia delivered, stating:
“Feminism is a range of political movements, ideologies, and social movements that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve political, economic, personal, and social equality of sexes.”
So that’s feminism. Well, I definitely feel inclined to join a movement like that.
And yet, feminism still confuses me. I guess if I had to define what it means to me, it would mean equality and understanding for all, not just females. But as I blunder through this life, I am increasingly aware that we all have different boundaries. Respecting that is important, but even more importantly, it might be time to have a frank and honest conversation about what is acceptable behaviour in 2018 (before we get too offended to do that).
Maybe this piece of writing is out of touch. Maybe I’m a dinosaur. Maybe I’m a shit feminist because I still enjoy chivalry or having a door held open for me. I guess all I can do is live my life in a way that is as open-minded, understanding and kind as possible; if that in turn makes me a feminist, great. If not, it doesn’t sound like something I want to be a part of anyway.