I’ve had a feeling for some time now that there is a shift in mood about feminism, equality and gender discrimination but, over the past couple of months, voices are rising and – I hope – being heard. I have been banging on about this stuff since I was a teenager, so I am both relieved and excited to discover that other people feel the same way.
Rather than going on here about my own thoughts and ideas here, which could turn into a rather long post, I just want to mention two campaigns that I have been following recently. The first is No More Page Three, organised by Lucy Holmes (#nomorepage3 / you can sign the petition here: http://tinyurl.com/9mt5j89), which is petitioning the Sun to drop the topless photos of young women that it features five days a week. It’s just plain bizarre that page three still exists in a daily, family newspaper, and the Sun‘s response to this polite request to put a, frankly, outdated and inappropriate practice to bed (so to speak) just highlights the fundamental sexism and misogyny that exists within the tabloid press. (You can read more about that at http://inadifferentvoice.wordpress.com/2012/10/01/wimmin-know-your-place). Apparently, when asked for a response on the campaign, the Sun said that there are more important things to be concerned about in the world. Yes, there are. So why don’t they put an article about these more important things on page three? Perhaps it could even be written by a woman.
The other campaign I want to mention is the Everyday Sexism Project (http://www.everydaysexism.com), which I have been following on Twitter (#everydaysexism). This is basically a simple forum for women to document examples of sexism that they encounter, whether that be something apparently minor or more serious examples, such as rape or assault. It’s fascinating and heartbreaking and reading it makes me physically shake with anger. So many of the examples are familiar and most women will recognise at least some the situations from personal experience and – as is so often the case – will also have brushed such experiences off as one of those things, or not worth complaining about, or will have felt themselves somehow to blame, or – if they did say something – will have been told (sometimes by their own friends and family) not to make a fuss.
The links between these two campaigns need little explanation. It is the mentality that says women’s bodies are there for the titillation and entertainment of the public – even when you don’t ask for it; even at eight in the morning with your coffee when you just want to read the headlines – that leads to the assumption that it’s okay to grope a woman you don’t know in a bar or in the street or on the Tube. It is this mentality that makes people say a woman is ‘letting herself go’ if she chooses not to wear make-up because she likes to have an extra ten minutes in bed or prefers comfortable shoes that don’t shorten her tendons and crush her toes. It is a subtle, creeping mentality that seeps into the consciousness, to a greater or lesser degree, of anyone who is not vigilant against it.
Campaigns such as No More Page Three and the Everyday Sexism Project are important and vital if we are ever to live in a fair and balanced society. These campaigns are good for women, but they are also good for men who, let’s not forget, also suffer from the inequalities that exist between the sexes. I encourage anyone reading this to show their support. It’s time for us all to show our feminist leanings.