Bad feminists, put your hands up

I used to write about feminism a little bit, back to a year or so ago, back when my eyes were first opened to the history of oppression and violence against women in our society and around the world. I guess once you start exploring any kind of injustice, it’s a bit like stepping through a door you can’t go back through. Because now I see it everywhere – I see women downtrodden, I see women under pressure, I see women being forced into boxes they don’t want to be in. We live in a culture that feels more comfortable with page three models than breastfeeding mothers – and comparatively, women in the UK have things easy.

I stopped writing about it because it was exhausting me, and because I knew other people were writing about it better than I ever could, and because I knew we were raising our daughter to understand this: that she can be whoever she wants to be and have whatever job or hobbies she wants, one day, that she can be strong and pretty at the same time, that her worth is not in her looks alone.

Last summer – whilst pregnant with a very obvious bump, and suffering from a dodgy pelvic joint that made my leg give way at random intervals – I went for a walk, and I got catcalled. It was a hot day and I was wearing a fairly short dress. I had, in a rare moment of energy during what was a pretty exhausting pregnancy, bothered to do my make-up. I felt quite confident (if a bit limpy). And maybe that confidence showed, or something, because I am not normally a woman that suffers from catcalling. I am a tiny, bespectacled, pale-skinned woman normally dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and a pair of slip on shoes that were once white and are now definitely not.

Anyway, some idiot leaned out of his window and wolf-whistled. Then he yelled something I’d rather not repeat here in case my Mum is reading it.

Far from being flattered (because being told, in a very aggressive way, that I am f***able by a strange man is not what I would call a compliment. I’ve kind of said it now, haven’t I? Oh well), I went cold. As in literally cold – goosebumps. I was walking down an alley, and there were no other adults around. It suddenly occurred to me that I was totally alone, with my tiny daughter, and my unborn child, and I didn’t feel safe. In the middle of the day.

I was angry about it. I shouted something equally unrepeatable back at him. And then I ran home. Dodgy hip and unwieldy bump and all. He yelled something slightly more threatening as I left.

When I got home I was really annoyed at myself. I should have said something better than that word I can’t repeat on my blog! (Maybe I should write a blog post called ‘bad Christians, put your hands up’.) I should have yelled something like ‘I’M NOT AN OBJECT FOR YOUR ENJOYMENT YOU EGOTISTICAL SMALL-MINDED SEXIST PIG!’. Or ‘STOP BEING SUCH A STEREOTYPICAL PRODUCT OF THE PATRIARCHY!’

Okay, I’m kind of joking with that last one.

But what I wanted to tell him was that I am a person, not a thing, and that his objectifying me wasn’t on, and that he needed to get with the program and realize that it isn’t acceptable to scream disgusting ‘compliments’ at people whenever he fancies it.

But I didn’t because I was caught off-guard and I am human.

Anyway, I was pondering this the other day, and trying to find the reasons why I’ve started rolling my eyes sometimes at other feminist issues. I occasionally lurk around a couple of message boards (it’s a bit less creepy than it sounds), and I find the ‘feminism’ topics particularly interesting (obviously). But I find myself, sometimes, totally alienated from it.

But that’s okay.

When we split ourselves into groups, as humans, there’s always a bit of in-fighting about what is acceptable within the group and what isn’t (which is why there are, at current count, approximately 41,000 Christian denominations worldwide). And there are always extremists. I’ve written about this before, but I wouldn’t want to associate myself with the Westboro Baptist Church people, for instance. Even though I am a Christian, I am not that kind of Christian.

I am a feminist, but I am not that kind of feminist.

The dictionary definition of feminism is this: ‘the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.’

That’s it.

So in case anyone out there is thinking ‘I’m not really a feminist because …’ or ‘I’m a feminist but I don’t feel comfortable talking to other feminists because …’ – here are a few of the many ways in which I am a particularly crappy feminist:

  1. I rely on my husband for income. This is a biggy. I am not financially independent. I am, however, in a loving marriage and I trust my husband with my life. But apparently, because we’re not financial equals, I shouldn’t ‘count’ as a feminist.
  2. I think ‘boys clubs’ and ‘girls clubs’ are fine, as long as the girls and boys have the opportunity to engage in the same kind of activities. I am not that one person that demands her daughter be let into the Scouts.
  3. I don’t see ‘girly’ things (i.e. – pink, sparkly, floaty, flouncy clothes and toys) as being inherently bad. In fact, I think categorizing those things as being ‘not of worth’ is actually damaging and kind of insulting. I just think, again, that children should have equal access to everything.
  4. I like men. (Apart from stupid catcalling men). I don’t think that men are scumbags. I don’t say things like that, either. I don’t think women are better than men – I think we deserve equal rights. Which goes both ways. I do care about boys being stereotyped, too.
  5. I don’t think men and women are the same. Sorry, I don’t. I believe children are individuals, and there’s nothing wrong with a girl that likes rough and tumble and a boy that likes to push a dolly pram around. But do I think there are fundamental differences between a man and a woman (other than the obvious physical stuff)? Yes. I do.

So there we go. According to some message boards, I should be kicked out of the Feminist Club, because I am not worthy.

It doesn’t mean anything.

Let’s stick to what’s important here: in the UK, the gender pay gap is the smallest it’s ever been. At the end of August, I casually popped along to my nearest church to vote in our local election. Why? Because feminists fought for it. Once upon a time, those rights did not exist, and now they do, and it’s all down to a movement that some people like to describe as a bunch of man-hating weirdos.

Women who came before me paved the way for me, and my daughter, and our rights, and I am grateful for it, and if the events of Hollywood in the past couple of weeks have told us anything, there is much work yet to be done.

Which is why I still call myself a feminist.

Even if I am a ‘bad’ one.

Would you call yourself a feminist? Have you ever felt excluded from feminism?

Linking up with:

16 thoughts on “Bad feminists, put your hands up

  1. All of those statements apply to me too. I don’t really consider myself a feminist. Of course I believe that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. But, I think that the definition of feminism has been skewed which makes me reluctant to be considered part of that “club”. That club including a large number of people (or maybe its not that large, just a handful of very vocal people) who use feminism as an excuse to hate on men or demand better opportunities or better treatment (rather than equal). Its really hypocritical to see so called feminists bashing men on social media for making a sexist comment, yet in the next tweet making a generalisation about “all men”. #twinklytuesday

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, you’re right. No-one should make blanket statements about a whole group of people. Of course there is an issue with male violence, but that doesn’t make all men evil. I still support feminism, but I do feel like an outsider x


  2. I usually won’t touch this topic with a ten foot pole, but I so appreciated your honesty!

    I think a lot of women feel this way. I think the definition of feminism/feminist has gotten grossly misconstrued. Now we (women) are just sort of all over the place on this. By definition, you are 100% a feminist. Not even a bad one.

    Dropping by from the #happynowlinkup
    Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! Hah, I do try to be honest. I’ve been avoiding writing about it for a while though due to fear of backlash. I try and stick to the dictionary definition of feminist and not worry too much about the rest x


  3. It drives me crazy how the extremists have totally taken feminism beyond what its about and turned it into a platform to not only slate men, but also to slate any woman they don’t feel fits their opinion on what a woman should be (which goes against everything feminism represents). It’s these extremists who give all feminists a bad name and make people shy away from the issues rather be labelled a man hater or something worse.
    Feminism for me represents a woman’s right to choose. You choose to live your life your way and that is feminism right there.
    As for the cat caller, it would have probably been a waste of time trying to educate him – people who think this is ok aren’t likely to be open to being educated and you probably replied in the only way he’d understand
    Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I get that people are passionate and that’s a good thing. But when people are so extreme it does put people off engaging with a topic that everyone should know more about!

      You’re probably right about the catcaller! x

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I am a bad feminist like you! I don’t really consider myself a feminist because I associate that with very outspoken opinion which I do not have. I think exactly the same on all the points you have mentioned. Thanks for linking up with #TwinklyTuesday

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for reading. Yeah, I used to feel the same way, I didn’t consider myself a feminist at all! But when I looked into it more, I realised I was a feminist – but I don’t agree with everything happening within it x


  5. I must be a terrible feminist then because not only do I believe that men and women should be equals but I also believe that men very often get a really bum deal, simply by virtue of their gender.

    I also shudder at the increasing misuse of the word, misogynist – I’m sure that most people who bandy it around have no idea what it actually means. Sure, some men are sexists, some men are chauvinists but that doesn’t make them misogynists. And it doesn’t mean we all live under some all-powerful, female oppressing patriarchy. Or kyriarchy.

    It also doesn’t mean that women are not sexist and chauvinistic.

    It’s a terribly sad fact of modern life that while women are crying out against being objectified and ‘oppressed’ by men, they are very often doing the same thing *to* men, yet cannot or will not see it. All too often, it seems that what neo-feminists want is to have the world exactly as they decree but not extend the same rights and courtesies to men. That is not remotely like equality. That is oppression.

    Really good post, Megan, I found myself nodding in agreement a lot!


    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you! I totally agree that some feminists want everything to be their way – which sometimes means oppressing men. What we should be aiming for is equality. There’s an awful lot of work to be done, and there are a lot of misogynistic men out there, but there are a lot of misogynistic women too. We need to be working together as much as possible, instead of standing against one another. x


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