It’s tough to be cool and not a sexist.
When I first started blogging I wasn’t sure what this would turn into and I wasn’t sure if I would be able to manage to keep it up. Turns out, there are enough things to enrage a feminist to keep her writing fortnightly. Silver linings…
Every two weeks, I’ve been having conversations with my niece about, well anything and everything, because anything and everything can be feminist. Sometimes, it will begin with a story in the papers, sometimes it’s a question she has or sometimes (mostly) it’s rage that I have. I often think this is less about her, and more about my alternative to anger management. Either way, usually, it works.
But this week, it hasn’t worked as well. This week, I’ve been left feeling like I haven’t done enough or that I shouldn’t have started this at all.
You see, this week, my niece stood up to some sexism and she was shouted down. Aggressively. I told her to do this back in previous discussions , and she was still cautious, so for her to do this, is a big deal. I just hope the response isn’t a bigger deal. I hope this doesn’t put her off challenging sexist behaviour. Because they’re wrong, not her. The one’s who remained silent around her too, were wrong, not her.
This week has been one where I have had a few too many encounters with the younger half of Generation Y. Now, I am Generation Y (just, I think it’s meant to start from 1982), but seem to have a different take on it. I’m talking about those, who like my niece, are currently between the ages of, say, 17 to 21. From what I saw this week let’s call them Generation Obnoxious. (I know, I sound like an old hag, but bare with me.)
I was in a students’ union bar (clutching on to my youth) and this conversation happened next to me. Let’s set the scene: 3 young women, all looked dressed up for a night out, 2 young men, probably prefer to be known as ‘lads’ who looked like a mix of wannabe hip hop stars meets a One Direction extra (no idea what this type fashion is called, or even whether it can be categorised as fashion).
One of the young men: “You know what I don’t get? Why you girls put so much of that crap on your face? Like, tone down the make up, it’s just vain” (note: this guy had spent, at least, 30 minutes on his hair and you know his iphone has pictures he’s taken of himself in front of a mirror – which is fine, but hypocritical)
The other young man: “Yeah, it’s just a waste of money, if you need that much make up, what’s under is going to be grim! lol” (he actually said LOL)
One of the young women: “Yeah, you’re so right, I hate girls that try too hard, most of them don’t even know how to wear make up properly, No guy wants that in his life!” This is the very point my soul died.
One of the other young women: Instantly became self-conscious and I saw her physically move back to hide from the conversation.
So what do we take from this?
I take this:
1. Who the hell do these men think they are? What’s it got to do with you what make up us women wear? Where did you gain such a level of audacity to think your opinion is that valid? Where did you learn to be so conceited that you think it’s ok to talk about women like that, to other women?!? Understand something: That sense of entitlement you seem to have with your opinion comes from a society that gives you a privilege you never deserved.
2. Giggling along, makes you complicit in these derogatory actions. I know, I know, what he thinks of you is, like, totes important, but actually it’s not. Don’t kick the sisterhood and your own self-respect down the gutter because patriarchy told you having a boyfriend is more important. Wake up and smell the sexism.
That evening, as if my blood pressure wasn’t high enough, a friend of mine sent me something on twitter (it was something a friend of his younger brother had written). I, like a fool, read the entire thread. Here are my favourite bits:
Tweet 1: “Call to women: learn how to be a decent girlfriend, no one wants to hear your chat, get making a curry”
Reply from 1 woman: “I make amazing curry, bet that puts me high on the potential list ;)” (I just vommed everywhere)
Reply from a woman: “Get making your own curry”
Original Tweeter’s reply to above: “That’s why you’re single #SpinsterForever”
Twitter is the easiest place to be a sexist. It’s also the most cowardly.
Well, that’s my future with coronary heart disease sorted. Many thanks.
You don’t need to be that guy, it doesn’t make you cool and you don’t have to be the woman who simply laughs along, it doesn’t make you more attractive, it means you’ve been played by patriarchy.
It’s this that my niece has had to deal with. It’s not easy to stand up to it, especially, in your own friend circle, but I hope that she, and others like her, have the courage to keep doing it.
BUT! Like a good newsreader after death and destruction, I want to end with a kitty that has been rescued from a tree. Not quite.
Sometimes, just sometimes, Twitter can deliver you a treat and reinstate your faith. I want to leave you with a little ray of wonderful hope. Meet the #TwitterYouthFeministArmy a group of young women from 15 up to early 20’s who define as feminists, talk to their friends about it and tweet/write wonderful stuff.
You can read a little more about them here. THIS is how change is made, peer-to-peer. Have a read, let your heart swell with joy and get young women in this age group you know, involved too. A huge, amazing, feminist applaud to you: Youth Twitter Feminist Army.