This Sunday, whilst he was on the phone to me, a male friend of mine finally understood where women were coming from about equality. He didn’t realize it by thinking about female representation in politics, or the issues of women’s safety at night, or by the fact that women are still paid less then men on average for doing the same job.
He realized it by me talking to him, not about feminism, but about how if I was to publish a book, I would do a JK Rowling and publish it with my initials, so that readers would not make an assumption of whether the book was for them based on my gender.
In ten minutes, after we had discussed what books we had read as children and how we had decided what we would like, or how our parents had decided what we would like, based on the gender of the author, he had moved on to female directors, and, in an usual moment of clarity for him, he had said, “I wonder how I would feel if the majority of film directors were female. I’d feel pretty under-represented.”
From this, we agreed that in most things, it would be better to have an equal amount of men and women in order for the world to be fair. Having more of one than the other, either way, was a stupid and unfair way to do it. We pondered why it was this way in the first place for a while. And then we went back to talking more nonsense.
It is because of this idea about equality, and the misunderstanding of the issue, that I joined (with some encouragement from my friend Alice, who is more on the ball about these kind of things), the Women’s Equality Party last month. I am now one of their founding members, and whenever it is that I can vote for them, I will most definitely be voting.
The whole idea about equality for everybody has resided very deep inside my psyche for as long as I can remember. I am all for fairness, and all for everyone’s voice being heard, no matter what gender, race, sexual orientation, ability etc. My female friends and I are all of the same opinion, give or take, and that is simply that women should be as present in the world as men, with the same rights, the same abilities and opportunities, and the same level of safety in the world. It is only as I have grown older that I have been surprised to find out that a lot of people don’t feel the same. My aforementioned friend, for example, uses sexual slurs, doesn’t believe women have the same abilities as men, and thinks that men should have more power in certain issues. He thinks things are different because we are different, and that society wouldn’t work in any other way. But he is changing, albeit slowly.
Only recently, in the last three years, have I considered myself a feminist, but now I am here I don’t see any way of going back. I didn’t think of myself as active, but hearing one of my female friends use the phase “careful what you say, there’s a feminist in the room”, in reference to me, has shown me that there is a way deeper problem then just not thinking women are equal to men. People are so uneducated and unaware about what the term “feminist” or “equality” actually means that they allow the situation to continue.
The Women’s Equality Party has set out it’s priorities so clearly that I fail to think how anyone can believe that it is purely a women’s party. Their policies are clearly driving for equality for everyone – and yes, that means men too. They want men’s voices to be heard too, because they recognize – unlike many feminist bashing friends I have, male and female – that patriarchy and misogyny effects men as much as it effects women. They aren’t all about women overpowering men. That’s not what a feminist is. They are about men and women being equal in life.
Anyway, I could talk about this forever, but I joined the Women’s Equality Party because I want to be a part of the solution. I don’t want to claim myself as a feminist and receive abuse for no reason. If I’m going to be pointed our and laughed at, at least it will be because I am getting involved, not just sitting on the sidelines and thinking things should change. I want to be part of the change.
It disheartens me to have female friends who don’t consider themselves feminist because it is such a bad word. I want to shake them and ask, do you really think you are not equal to everyone else? Do your own rights, and the rights of your loved ones, mean so little to you?
I want to be able to raise my children to think that everyone is equal. If I don’t, if society is still in the state it is now, then I will have failed as a human.
Sorry if this is ranty but it is super important to me. If you have joined the Women’s Equality Party, let me know!! And if you’re thinking about it, do it!
And if you have no idea what I’m talking about then stand by because I will be recommending a whole buttload of feminist reading soon.