So, I’m no militant feminist. You won’t find me burning my bra or throwing myself in front of horses (feminists still do that, right?); no, I’m just an ordinary student who believes in the ordinary rights of ordinary women. In fact, I’d like you to raise your hand if you would say you believe just the same. Pretty much everyone? Well, that sounds encouraging. However, the somewhat chilling fact that I had to face up to on Monday after reading the rather frightening article ‘Is The ‘F-Word’ Taken Too Far?’ is that not all of you who would raise your hand for those ordinary rights really believe what you’re putting your name to.
Now, my esteemed colleague wrote in her opening gambit that she agrees with the dictionary definition of feminism, which seems like a good place to start. That’s her raising her hand to my question right there. On the other hand, a mere seven sentences later, surely not enough time for such a large ideological turnaround, the article has me spitting feathers, and the bone of contention is the criticism of ‘the women who feel it is our prerogative to be on par with men in every aspect of life’. Now, I don’t want to engage in the battle of the dictionary definitions here, but in my book at least ‘on par’ means performing to the norm. So, just so you know, when your tutor says to you; ‘This essay was below par, Timothy!’, he’s implying that you were probably hung over when you wrote it, and you should jolly well go home and do it again. How does this relate to the opinion expressed in the article in question article, you ask? Well, you’ve guessed it; in this analogy we women are the essays you churned out in between swigs of Red Bull and trips to the bathroom to throw up. Why should we want to be ‘on par’? This is at least as good.
Don’t get me wrong, as I’ve said I’m no militant. I’ve no objection to people of either gender holding doors open for me, especially if I’m carrying my usual stack of late library books or juggling a coat, a bad mood and a wet umbrella. A friend’s mother sternly advised me at fourteen to ‘never owe a man anything’, with the wink-nudge implication that one innocently free drink would only lead to rape and dishonour, and I think it’s fair to say that that’s advice I’ve taken with a pinch of salt. Let a friend or a boyfriend get you a quick pint and you’ll probably be okay. Let a weirdo in the Raz buy you a WKD on the other hand and you’ve got yourself into a 99p contract; just try shaking that guy off for the rest of the night. If I was ill or monstrously pregnant I’d probably be happy for a man to give me his seat on a packed train, but as it is I’m happy to accept the vagaries of London Midland and sit on the floor like everyone else. If there’s one place that my view might coincide with that of this terrible new breed of feminist is that there’s no hard and fast rules, but this means that I shouldn’t be allowed anything purely because I have lady parts any more than I should be forbidden things for the same reason.
There’s something very sad about this new face of feminism, because look at the bright future of female empowerment that it paints! Women should be valued purely for their biological imperative to give birth, and asking for any more is to ask too much. Women should be allowed to sit down on trains just because they are women; because they are dainty perhaps, because they might cry or sprain one of their little ankles. Take the free drinks, let the creepers in the clubs put their arms around your waists. Where’s the harm? Let it be like the animal kingdom. Find the biggest, strongest man and let him provide ‘food and protection’ for you and whatever spawn he can squeeze out of you. Because the intelligence and sophistication of the women’s rights movement exists purely so we can all act like savages, after all.
I suppose I should have guessed from the title of ‘Is The ‘F-Word’ Taken Too Far?’ that this wasn’t going to be an article for me. I think, most probably, that treating feminism like a dirty word is going in the wrong direction, and, however embarrassing the extremist past might feel to you with your vote and your short skirts and access to contraception, that your distancing yourself from it is actively doing harm. So, come on, men and women alike. Stop thinking so hard about what everyone has inside their underwear, and start acting like everyone should be treated the same. It’s what you say you all believe.
By Natalie Burles