I've never thought of myself as a feminist. I know a few and am often bemused by some of the things they can be upset by. Their ability to see sexism in places I had no idea about, and was quite enjoying without having the faintest idea I was being insulted.
Then I read 50 Shades.
I'm not going to get into a whole lot of discussion about the book, suffice to say I didn't enjoy it and only bothered with the first one. If you really, really want to know what I think of it, google for Cassandra Parkin and Lighter Shades Of Grey. She manages to neatly sum up my feelings.
The main reason I'm not going to discuss it is that I can get a bit rabid - a bit feminist - and I get a distinct sensation of causing in others much the same feeling as good and dear of friends of mine have generated in me when getting upset at, for example, the detective series Castle.
So I thought I'd look it up. The Wikipedia article on the subject ( I know, I know but it suffices for the purposes of a quick blog post for heaven's sake!) says
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. In addition, feminism seeks to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment. A feminist is "an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women."
Feminist activists campaign for women's rights – such as in contract law, property, and voting – while also promoting bodily integrity, autonomy and reproductive rights for women. Feminist campaigns have changed societies, particularly in the West, by achieving women's suffrage, gender neutrality in English, equal pay for women, reproductive rights for women (including access to contraceptives and abortion), and the right to enter into contracts and own property.Feminists have worked to protect women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual assault.They have also advocated for workplace rights, including maternity leave, and against forms of discrimination against women. Feminism is mainly focused on women's issues, but because feminism seeks gender equality, some feminists argue that men's liberation is a necessary part of feminism, and that men are also harmed by sexism and gender roles.
Sounds fair enough to me, are there any women out there who think the above listed things are a bad idea? I hope not. Based on that, I think I probably am a feminist then. Certainly I'm very aware that the life women lead today, largely due to the work of determined and awesome women (and men), is a radically different prospect to that of even my Great Grandmother. Probably the thing that chimes most deeply within me is the body integrity issue. I simply cannot imagine resigning ANY choices regarding my own body to someone other than myself. Actually that's not even correct is it? I wouldn't be resigning, I wouldn't have the right even to resign myself to it, it simply wouldn't even be considered that I might have an opinion, possibly even by myself. Imagine someone else deciding to have your hair cut into a style they prefer, so just taking you off to have it done, not a word to you. That's pretty horrific just in itself, now imagine that same attitude in regard to your reproductive system. See, I already want to punch something at the very idea.
So why have been so reluctant to apply the term to myself? Well, Feminists with a Capital F tend to be brighter than me for a start. And more observant. Then there's that wish not be associated with that dungareed, crewcutted, pathological man hater lesbian with a sense of humour bypass image that became so pervasive for a while. I say a while, I think the Daily Mail still applies that very definition. That's telling in itself of course, if there were flaws in the feminist argument, if there was no issue for them to raise and it could be shown by application of facts, drawing outrageous and provocative caricatures wouldn't be necessary. But real feminists always seem so active, so passionate, such achievers. I don't think of myself that way.
It's a simple enough philosophy in the end though, either you believe that no one should have their life determined by societal expectations of their gender above and beyond their own will, or you don't. I do. So I'm a feminist then. As a feminist, I really, really, really, hated 50 Shades of Grey.