Column this week
I am not a feminist. Far from it actually. It’s an assumption people make about me that they usually believe to be accurate. If their other assumptions about me prove incorrect, they always seem quite certain that that one isn’t. I’ve always been thought of as feisty – a word used to describe only women and short, fluffy dogs I think. I’ve always been seen as opinionated and dramatic, using both the tongue and the pen, er, keyboard, to champion the cause of the underprivileged and downtrodden. If men are pigs then we are the flowers they trample as they roll about in the muck of their lives. Um, actually, no.
The problem with feminism is that it lacks imagination. It’s the one thing it has in common with atheism I think. In the beginning it was great; it was radical, meaningful, it brought together millions of women across the globe to protest the narrowness of their lives and to burn their confining bras. But within feminism itself there exists great inequality. Most of those who’ve spearheaded it have always been the ones who were already the most privileged. They’ve been the ones whose positions within the patriarchal society have been so secure that they were able to, for want of a better expression, thumb their noses at it. It’s like the children of rich parents rebelling by growing dreadlocks and going to parties in the Cove. Reassimilation is simply a haircut away.
I also have a problem with a movement that does not acknowledge its triumphs. Our generation of women enjoys the most money, the greatest freedom, the highest status and the most rights of any other. Many of us in the Western world would laugh raucously at the idea of being unable to go out when we want, dressed how we want, study what we wish and marry whom we choose. These are not concessions given to us – these are things we grow up with. They are our rights that we don’t even acknowledge because the idea of it being any other way is ludicrous.
Yet for a number of women I know these are just the means to a very clichéd end. The first line of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice still holds true: “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Many women I know aim to be such wife. I’m not averse to the idea myself. Many women create their self perceptions based on how men see them, by choice rather than by societal dictates. The idea held by some feminists that being seen as sexy and enjoying being sexy is regressive is, to give a scientific pronouncement, chupidness.
Our genetic coding drives us to mate and propagate the species. Men are supposed to find us hot. We’re supposed to want them to find us hot – how else are we going to make babies and get them to mind us for the eighteen plus years we need to bring the child to adulthood? Things have changed, yes. We no longer are dependent on men to provide for us economically and some would say emotionally also. But the period that this has been so is less than a grain in the hourglass that represents man’s time on earth. So we don’t need men. Doctors tell us we don’t need tonsils either; let’s wait around and see how long that takes to work its way out the genetic pool.
Besides, men are fun. In the war between the sexes I’m all for fraternising with the enemy. There are myriad pleasures that only men can give and I’m not speaking about what you’re thinking but that, of course, goes without saying. Most men I know believe in equality and the ones that don’t, well, I don’t really take them on to tell the truth. But I believe in equality despite race, despite age, despite sexuality, despite culture, despite country, despite job.
Talk to me about children who are abused and whose rights aren’t acknowledged. They have no means to improve their lives – they are dependent on the mindset of the society and the time in which they live. They have no voice – they can have mine. Talk to me about the old, the sick, the ones whose sexual preference is a criminal offence. These have no access to power – they have no means by which to fight. They can have mine. And for the women for whom feminism is a word, not a fact – the women who must walk miles to collect water, who never go to school, whose sexuality is the property of first her father then her husband’s, I will join her fight. But I will join her fight because of her circumstance, not her gender. Gender discrimination, we must acknowledge, works both ways. There are female pigs too.