feimineach.com

I must blog about this very same thing twice a year because I just don't get it.

From padaviya:

Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions.. for safety on the streets… for child care, for social welfare… for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law. If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist,’ I ask ‘Why? What’s your problem?’

- Dale Spender

I might not ask, ‘Why? What’s your problem?’, but I will ask you to have a think about that. I frequently say things like the following to my female students: Really, feminism is a load of rubbish is it? How's going to university working out for you? Looking forward to getting a job and earning a wage, are you? Appreciating your full access to birth control, I suppose? Ah, enjoyed the pub last night, I see. Voting about AV in May, are you? How do you think you got to enjoy all of the above? 

Feminism's a load of rubbish, it? Think on...

  • Brilliant response to your female students! I’m going to repost it on my blog – trust that’s okay!

  • I don’t know if you’ve been following the friendly atheist forum but this topic has gone down the predictable route. Most people are happy to support or even fight for equal rights and opportunities for women but they don’t think that feminism is a good thing at all. I’m curious as to what people think that feminism is if not a movement that supports equal rights and opportunities for women?

    • I haven’t but I might start now. What is their reasoning, do you know?

      That IS the predictable route indeed.

      • Pretty much that feminists are all hairy legged, man hating lesbians with an axe to grind. That feminists don’t want equal rights and opportunities but favourable rights and opportunities to make up for centuries (at least) of the evil menz having all the best things in life. The usual rubbish spouted by Daily Wail readers and David Willetts et al.

        • Thought as much. Another common misconception. (Am going to catch up on your blog today, by way. Need to get a few things sorted and vote etc.)

  • Hover (replying here as I couldn’t nest any more comments): you’re possibly right. Feminism does have a terrible name, and the reasons are likely to be very complicated. It’s wholly undeserved though.

  • I think there’s a wider problem; complete lack of knowledge and curiosity about history (beyond those specific slices of it that you need to know in order to pass exams, and then forget immediately). Your female students may not have much of a clue about the Pankhursts or Mary Wollstonecraft, but I doubt their knowledge – and that of their male colleagues – of the Peasants’ Revolt, the Levellers, Tom Paine, the Chartists, Catholic Emancipation, Tolpuddle Martyrs the 1832 Reform Act etc etc is that hot either.

    • Mr Footman, it’s been a while (though I have been quiet on the blogopshere)! How the hell are you?

      I don’t doubt that it is a wider problem as you say. When I explain to my students (even in very basic detail) what the waves of feminism are about, I can see the penny dropping. Oh, so THAT’S where the vote came from?! It would take a whole other module to contextualise it all, alas. I would LOVE to teach that module but I can’t imagine the higher uppers letting it through.

      In general terms, knowledge about everything you mention is lacking, which is a real shame.

  • I reposted this on the Friendly Atheist forum BTW with a suggestion to visit here. I hope you don’t mind.

  • In some ways isn’t it a good thing that equality is assumed? Doesn’t that mean that people consider feminism to have been successful and achieved what it sets out to achieve? Well, if only that were the case.

    They are speaking from a position of ignorance. They are privileged and don’t have to fight for their right to vote, their right to leave the house without a man, their right to work (albeit at a generally lower wage than an equally qualified man) or run a company or any of the million other things that are denied to women all over the world. That is a good thing too. Ignorance can be dispelled through education.

    • Hey Hover! I think it’s moreso that feminism has got something of a bad name and, potentially, people don’t want to identify with a movement that has a poor reputation. There’s still a conviction that feminists are all hairy-legged, man-hating lesbians. (And, if they are, so what, but that’s a whole other discussion.) There is also, you’re right, something about not having to fight for rights in the same way now and, as such, thinking that feminism is redundant/ no longer applicable. I – obviously – disagree with that vehemently. Of course, there’s also A LOT of woman-on-woman misogyny about that doesn’t align with feminist principles.

      (If any of my non-feminist friends come and read this, I’m not saying that you subscribe to all or any of the above!)

      • Regarding the apathy on rights that we have and don’t use, I was discussing the poor voter turnout that we have in this country with a friend of mine. By way of a half serious joke we came up with a plan to encourage people to vote (hardly any women in our office voted in the last election) by forming a party whose only platform was to remove the vote from women. We figured that it would be so offensive that women would turn up in droves just to vote against us. Then we could move on to other groups.

        I wonder if the early successes of the feminist movement contributed to the backlash against it?

        • I can see the logic of it, Hover, but it doesn’t sit comfortably with me! It’s like a “Let’s piss the wimmin off to get them to do something” sort of thing! 😉

          Do you mean that the early successes contributed to the backlash from other women? It’s possible though I don’t see why that should be the case. Surely the early successes should be applauded by those who reap the benefits?

        • It’s like a “Let’s piss the wimmin off to get them to do something” sort of thing!

          – Yeah, that was kind of the point and also probably why it would fail miserably.

          Do you mean that the early successes contributed to the backlash from other women? It’s possible though I don’t see why that should be the case. Surely the early successes should be applauded by those who reap the benefits?

          Unfortunately I think that early successes are quickly taken for granted and further efforts are resented by a significant portion of people. The extremes are taken as stereotypes and the mainstream message is lost in the scuffle. That’s why a lot of people think that feminists are hairy legged lesbians who think that any kind of sex with a man is the same as rape.

          I think that the negative stereotype is what stops people from self idenitifying as feminists. Atheism has the same problem. Even though an awful lot of people support equal rights for women (or don’t believe in gods) they fall short of adopting that label. Why? They think that the label means something different than it does. How do you change people’s perception?

  • Redbookish

    And them I regularly have female students who tell me that feminism’s gone too far, and that when they marry, they’ll give up work, and have their husband look after them, while they have babies. After I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor, all I can do is gasp.

    Actually, I did then ask one of them what she was doing at university (and a Russell Group one at that). She said her father made her go.

    • I would be really very tempted to ask her to leave the room and to give her place to someone who deserves it. ARGH! That is infuriating!