During the past few years of social upheaval, I’ve been busy with my own personal issues to really give a full perspective on here on the subject of feminism, sexism and the Me Too movement. It has, however, been at the core of my own problems, and will be for the foreseeable future. That’s not a ‘pity me’ line, it’s just reality. It doesn’t mean I’m going to just live with it either, quite the opposite. This post in itself is the start of me being a lot more open and honest about this subject.
You say “We gotta look on the bright side”
I say “Well maybe if you wanna go blind”
We can’t expect every bit of truth to be splashed on the front page and pasted on plaquards to accept and believe it. The truth being that toxic masculinity and sexism is still rife in the workplace and in our everyday lives. The truth also being that most women have said or at some point will say “Me Too”. Not to mention that the word feminism still turns the stomachs of the masses.
I identify as a feminist because I believe everyone has a right to equality, and in my experience that is a rarity. The word feminism means the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes. But you’re right if you think it’s a little more complicated than that.
The 4th Wave
I am part of the 4th Wave, and most feminists from the millenial generation are too. There are many different feminist perspectives, so if you want to get into the nitty gritty, this article by Vox does a great job at explaining the history of the waves of feminism. The 4th wave, in a nutshell, is:
- Inclusive (it is necessary to understand that each person will have a different experience of inequality, depending on their gender/sexual identity, their ethnicity, their class etc)
- Body and sex positive (your weight/sexuality/what you wear is nobody’s business but yours)
- Anti-misandry (against the judgement and dislike of, contempt for, or ingrained prejudice against men)
I believe in the process of equalising stereotypically feminine traits with stereotypically masculine traits. All traits can be strengths and weaknesses. I also believe that people who are misogynistic and sexist, or attempt to minimise the importance of equality, just aren’t mature enough or willing to understand it yet. They are also usually in denial about a lot of other things. Not just feminist issues. There’s not much we can do about this than stand by our own beliefs, and educate ourselves so we know where we are placed in the grand scheme of things. We can also begin to discuss the topic more, which I’ll be doing right here!
The theory of there being waves of feminism is a simplification of the philosophy. With these waves comes a core, almost mainstream, ideology. But there are philosophies that are an offshoot of that, including socialist feminism. The reason I’m mentioning this is because it holds a lot of my own core beliefs – a lot of which I gathered from my own experiences. So with that in mind, it’s quite likely you may also find some truth here.
Socialist feminism rose during the liberating 1960s and 70s. It focuses on the connection between patriarchy and capitalism as a cause for the oppression of women. As a working class woman I can vouch for that. My ancestors could too. ‘Sup Grandma Gertrude?! Sadly I never got the chance to meet Gertrude. She was, however, a bold, Northern woman. That I do know. She worked in a factory and raised three children on very little money. My grandad worked, but women earned significantly less, so she would have had to rely on him to an extent. I’m fairly certain my grandad wasn’t a supporter of the liberation of women either, so I’m sure we can all imagine how that went down with Grandma G.
So remember – those who win the gameLose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment dueExceeds accounts received at seventeen
There are many women living on their own, with little to no financial worries, but they are a minority. Take an average woman and man, add children to the mix, and the balance is often lost. Women are much more likely to stay home with the kids, while the man works. A recent study found that millenials are actually less progressive than previous generations, and they’re more likely to believe women should stay at home, and men should be the breadwinners. So what has happened?
In essence, socialist feminists believed that women are unable to be free due to their financial dependence on males. This theory also attempts to integrate the fight for women’s liberation with the struggle against other oppressive systems based on race, class or economic status.
Women in the Workplace
In terms of financial dependence on males, I’m not just talking about husbands or partners here. This also refers to the fact that over 70% of women aged 16–64 are employed (compared to 53% in 1971) and yet there are as many men called John as there are women in CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies. How can it be that it’s 2018 and we’re allowed in the office, but not the boardroom? The problem too, is that so many men in decision-making positions don’t believe having a woman in a senior role would make any difference to their company. Yet according to the Telegraph, Britain’s most successful companies have women in senior roles.
There is a problem, I have noticed, that when a woman turns 30, people expect her to ease herself out of the workplace. Either by leaving for good, or working part time. As though all women have the same aims and goals in life, and they should expect to only make it so far in a company before they bail out. I am 30 this year, and I can honestly say that in my experience very few men in senior positions want to be told that they are wrong by a woman. Even if what she is saying is backed up with facts and data. Pride is a nasty thing. And a formidable woman is too much for some people.
Did she make you swallow all your pride?
Does the love still shiver down your spine?Hi, I’m not invisible
I’m on your side
I’ll be formidable
Denial & Me Too
The whole Me Too movement expressed the sheer magnitude of the prevalent bullshit in our lives. I never shared #metoo on social media. I will however say Me Too now, and just leave it at that. And the reason why I don’t feel the need to go any further than that is this – the details, the people involved, how I felt afterwards are not the point. The real point is – do people get it yet? Or are they still in denial?
Experiencing inequality, in any way, is a hard thing to accept in itself. So saying the sentence “I was harrassed”, “I was assaulted” or “I was abused” is incredibly difficult. Really, it shouldn’t be on people who have experienced any of this to explain why you should care. If someone says Me Too, let that be enough, and know it’s just another to add to the roster of sad souls.
It feels like warning signs were there for us to see
It feels like they taught us ‘ignore diligently’
I feel her, I hear her weakly scream
Am I really so unkind
To turn around and close my eyes?
I’ll do better next time
I’ll do better next time
Stop Normalising Weird Behaviour
As I’ve gotten older, boundaries have become a huge focus for me. There are rules that relate to boundaries in the workplace, yet there are many people who are either unaware of them or don’t actually understand why they exist. Do you know your rights? No one really wants to have to report or complain about anything, most people will hesitate before they do, but the reality is it’s the right thing to do in this current climate if what you’re reporting is actually making you feel uncomfortable, or having an effect on your work or mental health. We need to be more honest, we need to feel comfortable doing so, and we all need to start working together to fix it.
I want to say here, that I believe the “rules of etiquette” should be a blanket rule: everyone is treated the same; man, woman, white, black, feminist, whatever. Equality. Women are just as capable as men are of behaving inappropriately and indignantly denying anything was wrong with how they behaved.
It is hard to begin to realign our beliefs and morals, especially if you haven’t experienced anything yourself that has made you consider boundaries or behaviour. Genuinely, no one is expecting us to come to the rescue, no one is expecting us to know how others feel straight off the bat, no one is expecting for us to have all the answers. It is expected, however, for us all to begin to:
- Educate ourselves.
- Stop normalising weird behaviour.
- Understand what changes we personally can make in the way we behave with others.
- Understand how we can respond to situations in the future.
Self Awareness and Being Aware of Others
Assume you know nothing about anyone – how would you then understand the things they say and do? With distance, are we more able to see when something isn’t right? Being objective, even with the people we’ve known for years, is it possible we might begin to understand them a lot differently? And then in doing that, are able to see what we may be doing wrong too?
It’s difficult being that person who speaks up first, who speaks their mind and their morals like their life depends on it. *waves* You’re not alone. It is a series of cycles, every time you face something, you pass that fear, you move through the phases, and the cycle starts all over again. This isn’t a bad thing, it is life. Each time you learn more.
A good way to keep track of this, and to ease your mind, is to familiarise yourself with the Major Arcana in Tarot. I’m currently going through another cycle of learning, about others and myself. I’ve just gone through The Tower, and my most recent Past/Present/Future reading gave me a reversed Moon for the future. So in essense, we all lose faith sometimes, but we’re not alone.
We’re captive on a carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game
With everything that has gone on the past few years, it can feel that there’s a lot to catch up on and read about, but as I said in my Slow Living post, there is no rush. Go slow, and your responses and actions will be more thoughtful and understanding. Everything will work itself out in time. Until the next one…