“You a Feminist or something?” I drunk guy walking down Lambton Quay called out the other evening as I was coming home from work. I’d rebuffed his grotty beery advances.
What is going on here? Is being a feminist a derogatory term?
Good question. A very good question. Hands up if you’ve read Caitlin Moran’s How to be a Women?
Well I can’t see your hands ‘cos this is the Internet but I am going to assume a few of you waving your arms around. For those of you who haven’t, Caitlin Moran is a 30 something British women who has written a wonderfully funny polemic book about feminism in the 21 century.
I read it late last year and it got me thinking. It rekindled my feminist fire, it reignited my “hell yeah, ladies rock, or more specifically girls / woman can do anything” mantra.
I grew up in a houseful of girls and on the pin board next to the telephone was a faded paper sign saying “I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a door mat.”
I don’t remember who said that but a quick check on google and it turns out it was Rebecca West, in ”Mr Chesterton in Hysterics: A Study in Prejudice,” The Clarion, 14 Nov 1913, reprinted in The Young Rebecca, 1982.
In our house feminism wasn’t a dirty word. I thought everyone was a feminist ( I also thought everyone believed in God), I mean, who would want to be a door mat?
In fifth form I experimented with shaving my legs and in six form letting them get hairy, then in seventh form, shaving my shins while also letting the hair grow on my calves, in retrospect- an unusual if not downright insane choice but nevertheless a CHOICE.
Being a feminist to me is about Choice, to quote the Vaganda website,
“That’s all feminism boils down to, at the end of the day: choice. The choice to be the most traditional homemaking mother of the pack, or the most cutthroat human rights lawyer in the Supreme Court. The choice to go out on a million, er, ‘test-driving’ dates, or to lose your virginity on your wedding night to a guy your parents introduced you to at church camp. The choice to walk around in clothes you bought, going to the office you work in, making independent decisions without the threat of suddenly being a slave in your own home, with no financial power, no vote, and no right to education.”
Seems like a no brainer to me. I yelled back to Mr Drunk, “YES I am a feminist and I choose not to pash you!”