Feminism / Politics / Sex

Boobs, Bans & Battering Rams: Why I’m Going To Be The Change I Want To See In The World

I used to think that feminism was an easy thing. I’m female, I care about the fact that I’m female, therefore I am a feminist.

I bleed therefore I am. What could be simpler?

I’m now approaching my 22nd year of being an independent, forward thinking ‘bird’ with a brain bigger than one half of the planet would perhaps like, and I’m finally starting to ask questions. My own questions. Is there a ‘right’ way to be a woman? Should I really feel threatened by all and every man who dares to look my way? Is sex really the enemy?

Why does ‘feminism,’ once a big, baggy jumper of safety and comfort, now feel like it never really did fit me at all?

That’s right. I’m losing my feminist faith. Or rather not losing it, but just changing, growing, learning that nothing in life is black and white, especially if you’re a woman.

I’m dissatisfied with the snobbery of feminism, with its constant need to distinguish between those who are ‘saved’ and those who are ‘victims.’ With its insistence that there is a right way and a wrong way to be and if you choose the wrong way, then by god you’re out of the fold. With its voracious, unquenchable need to demonise female sexuality. I don’t know when it happened or even why, but somewhere along the line our beautiful, courageous feminists stopped saying ‘YES’ and started yelling ‘NO.’ No to strip clubs. No to pornography. No to Page 3. No to high profile women who DARE to flout their duties as feminist standard bearers.

No, no, no. We can’t, we won’t, we don’t want to and you can’t make us.

Like an atheist watching Songs of Praise, I’m furious. I feel like my feminism, the feminism that has defined and continues to define my life and my generation, has lost its way. It fights the right things for the wrong reasons. It ran headlong at Page 3 (again) just recently, with a big old axe and a banshee war cry on its lips. ‘Stop the exploitation! Save the victims! These girls don’t know what they’re doing!’ No, they’ve simply made a choice that feminism deems the ‘wrong’ choice. As soon as a woman deviates from the agreed upon path, that’s it, she’s been compromised. She doesn’t know any better, she needs to be saved. Don’t even get me started on the nauseating conceit of NoMorePage3 campaigner Lucy Anne Holmes, a woman who proudly declared that she was disgusted to see pictures of female athletes alongside glamour models.

Because we all know that some girls are better than others right Lucy?

For a long time I’ve felt like a traitor, a heretic who’s lost the ability to be a real  feminist. But there’s a fire starting to smoulder in my enraged, push-up bra clad breast. Because it’s slowly dawning on me, that this IS feminism. Fraught with inconsistencies, with wrongs and rights and everything in-between. This is exactly why women like Simone De Beauvoir and Mary Wollstonecraft were compelled to write the things they did. And why people like Germaine Greer, Eve Ensler and Naomi Wolf needed to come along and change it, transform it, build upon it.

I’m finally learning that it’s okay to disagree with feminism, even if everyone around me tells me that I’m wrong.

There is no right way to be a feminist, because there is no right way to be a woman.

And I am lighter because of this realisation. I’m hungrier, fiestier and more determined than ever to forge my own path. I feel a new power, a fresh sense of my own gender, my own life as a woman. Why can’t I be the next Simone De Beauvoir? What’s stopping me from carving out a new feminism all of my own? Or any of us for that matter? Why can’t we stop glaring outwards, and start looking inwards?

I’m asking myself now, ‘What can I bring to the women of my generation?’

And the answers are boundless. So watch out world, because I can’t wait to get started.


4 thoughts on “Boobs, Bans & Battering Rams: Why I’m Going To Be The Change I Want To See In The World

  1. Like any ideology, feminism is fraught with division and inevitably appears incoherent. By subscribing to it in a general way, however, we make judgments on where mistakes are being made. No feminist should condemn a woman who strips off or dances round a pole for a living. But we do need condemnation of the culture which persuades women to actively partake in their own objectification, and unfortunately this discourse is too often centered on identifying the woman as a ‘victim’, which is bound to patronize and alienate.
    You are right: feminists must forge their own path. We are dealing with the politicization of the personal, and so each woman has her own experience of being a woman to think about and explore.

    • I agree wholeheartedly. I wrote this to sort of clarify my own feelings about feminism more than anything else. Over the last few years I’ve found myself disagreeing with popular feminist arguments/rhetoric more and more and I did wonder if I was just becoming less concerned. Which did bother me, til I began to realise that if anything, my understanding has deepened. It’s easy to accept everything you’re told when you’re younger, then you grow up and finally come to the conclusion that life is complicated. There are NO right answers, to any of this. All there is, is choice. A truth that I think gets forgotten.

      See what I can’t seem to suitably put into words (perhaps I’m just too dim) is my frustration at the fact that feminism can’t seem to distinguish between the act and the cause of the act. If that makes sense. It isn’t sexualisation of the female body that’s the problem, that’s nature…its the subjugation that comes with it. Men looking/perving/enjoying female flesh is nothing more than a biological reaction, a body trying to find a mate. It’s the associations that are made with that that are the problem. What we need to do is stop politicising the female body. Perhaps, just perhaps if we stop treating those that use their bodies as second class citizens, as sluts/whores/tramps etc then we might stop seeing it as a ball and chain. Plenty of ancient societies worshipped their ‘prostitutes’ like Gods, because their bodies were as close to life/creation as its possible to get.

      I doubt that made any sense. This is something I’m still wrangling with in my own brain. But maybe if we work with sex rather than against it, the world would get better.

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