This post follows 24 hours of viewing the world through my feminist lens, and the things I noticed that others may not notice.
I saw in International Women’s Day furious. I had tried to explain to a person on Twitter that perhaps they needed to re-examine their privilege and that they had used the word “slutty” in an offensive context. The person dismissed all of these concerns, all the while insisting that they were feminist and knew better. A friend of mine blocked the person over that as she was so upset and frustrated by the flagrant privilege denial and complete dismissal. Shortly after midnight, the person tweeted the following:
International Women’s Day coincides with Pancake Day. I think this means women are pancakes but I might have got confused.
How very feminist, minimising International Women’s Day. I replied to that effect. I got a sarcastic reply. I considered blocking the person, too, but decided instead that I will call them on their bullshit where I see it in the hope that one day they might just get a clue.
I woke up to glorious sunshine and beautiful messages of solidarity celebrating women all over Twitter. For just one glorious moment I felt as though perhaps there were finally enough people on our side to win this fight.
Then I read this. In short, the UK is attempting to water down legislation defining violence against women as a violation of human rights. The anger prickled. How is violation of the rights of a human not violation of the rights of a human? Are women less than human?
After lunch (mortadella, mozarella and artichoke ciabatta, delicious) I was heartened again. Today has been a good day for feminist writing. As tweeter MediocreDave put it:
I am having a lovely afternoon sitting by a sun-lit window and reading feminist blogs. Can we have #IWD more often, please? :)
If only every day were about celebrating people.
While doing all of this, I was, of course, working. I work in one of the few areas of science that lacks the stark gender gradient: I work in psychology. My main supervisor is a woman, a brilliant woman. My office is teeming with smart, brilliant women. There is none of the age-old problem of “but women can’t analyse” here. We all deal in advanced statistics, and our genders are irrelevant. I am writing a paper. Four of the five authors are women. The stark gender gradient is hardly here at all. The sun streams through the window of my office, and I am happy to be here.
Another reason I like my office: we’re discussing female genital mutilation right now, and the politics of pubic hair, and bodily autonomy. At least two of my office-mates are feminists; the rest probably are but don’t know it yet.
It was a beautiful, glorious afternoon until I saw the news about Tahrir Square. Our Egyptian sisters marched to make themselves visible, to be included in deciding on the future of their country. They were greeted with thugs telling them that this was not an option. This reaction to women wishing to determine their own lives is global, it is entrenched. Where I see it, it is usually tweets or blog comments. The sarcastic “make me a cup of tea, love”; the furious “you’re wrong” with no elaboration; the feeble attempt to justify something which to me seems completely unjustifiable. In Egypt, it is bigger, it is more overt. It is all part of the same problem; and it strengthens my resolve to fight this wherever I see it.
I check Facebook periodically. Old school friends, barely remembered faces from the past comment on statuses relating to International Women’s Day with their hilariously ironic assertions that women should make sandwiches and react defensively when it is pointed out that this is not good form. Targeted ads, spotting my age and gender, try to sell me manicures and brazilian waxes. I prefer Twitter. Since I became a feminist, I’ve liked Facebook a lot less.
Today has been my first day of blogging, and my introduction to feminist blogging is much as I’d imagine. I have faced the kind of comments I expected: a mix of gratifying and head-smashingly frustrating. I talk to people about my experience. Those who see through the feminist lens understand perfectly. Those who do not, do not discuss the issue. To me, feminism is like a community of people who see the world in a similar way. We can come from anywhere, we can be any gender, any race. We see things that others don’t. We react differently.
Of course, we are not a homogenous of seething anti-patriarchy ire. We simply see what others cannot or will not.
For the evening, I fuck. It is good. I do not think of the politics surrounding sex: gendered power differences, consent, and on and on; I am too busy fucking.
So ends a day in the life of someone who has once been termed a radical feminist lesbian separatist. It was not a typical day. No day is truly typical.
That was my International Women’s Day.