There is nothing more wonderful, than having your fight for social justice pissed all over. You know those moments when you’re busy trying to fight the patriarchy, making some kind of difference in the world, then hearing those words; “surely there are bigger things to fight.” or “You’re being naive about x” . Yes, because a movement representing 52% of the population, only has a single way to do things, and you must be its only leader *passes the dictionary at the page defining grassroots*
Well, to that, I do this:
My niece had that sentence said to her for the first time this week, and the heartbreaking thing was, it was by a fellow young woman who shares her feminist ambitions. Ouch. It’s always easier to brush it off when a feminism dismissing man says it to you.
She was talking about No More Page 3, the campaign that has finally, made people question why I need a side of sexism left next to me on the seat on the number 12 bus. Sorry, not sexism, the right for women to be objectified in a daily tabloid, by men and for the profit of men.
Niece; “It was was weird, I just thought she would be on my side, we were talking about Page 3 cause one of the guys bought it into school, and she said it’s not that big a deal, we need to fight the big stuff. What? we’re in maths and these boobs are staring at you because the guys think it’s hilarious to shove it in the face of girls as they walk into class. of course it’s a big deal”
No More Page 3 has galvanised over 200,000 people to sign up and get rid of Page 3. My niece had signed up to the campaign and throughout the conversations about feminism and injustice I have had with her, it was the simple and coherent message of No More Page 3, has changed her from someone having a conversation about things with me, to someone who actively wants to change things. At 15 she wants to start a school petition, already, from where I am looking, No More Page 3 is winning. (well done pals!)
I have had my own experience of it recently, the absolute lack of sisterhood that comes with the idea that there is only your way, or that “my feminism is better than your feminism” read as “I am threatened by your way of doing things”. To me, it is the last straw that patriarchy holds onto for dear life, that when it comes down to the crunch, we fight each other rather than fighting it. Now, by no means do you need to be best pals with the woman next to you, my patience is far too short for that, but if she’s marching on a patriarchy smashing parade, don’t rain on it, yeah?
Recently, Julie Bindel wrote a piece about how feminism is at risk of becoming toxic as it attacks individuals instead of the wider issue. It’s 1000 words of “let me explain real feminism to you” and by the time I got to the end, I was exhausted. The reality of the article is, Bindel is essentially, telling those newly energised by feminism, that they have got it wrong, go back, start again and learn your lessons. Fighting the acceptance of the pathetic Dapper Laughs attempt at humour, fighting the welcoming back of Ched Evans and the likes of Robin Thicke’s questionable musical talents, is not getting to the root cause of patriarchy and therefore, stop it and do something better.
As a campaigner, I know that bit my bit, chipping away at the ice is how you get to the root cause, because the root cause on it’s own is overwhelming and sometimes, it’s hard to even identify. Every time someone signs the latest petition on whichever pathetic sexism our society has endorsed, we gain another potential activist, who after feeling empowered to do something, will work on those root causes. Every time a Dapper Laughs comedian is shut down, broadcasters are forced to think twice about who they contract next and importantly that there is a growing movement that will question them about it. Surely, that is part of the root cause? Julie Bindel was on Radio 4 earlier this year and when asked about Page 3, said “people ask why you want an end to this, it is the insidious nature…the drip, drip effect of it being in a newspaper”. Well surely, the likes of Dapper Laughs, who finds street harassment and abuse hilarious getting a tv contract is another example of the “drip ,drip”.
I don’t want us to look back on these last couple of years as a “wave”, we need a sustained movement, that only happens when we show every attempt to “chip” away at the patriarchy iceberg a little respect.
You might be a young feminist who has done her homework or an old hat who has “been there and done that”, but you haven’t done it through the eyes of every feminist. Our movement is at it’s best when it is diverse and inclusive; that means fighting Dapper Laughs and fighting welfare reforms that disadvantage women, getting rid of page 3 and tackling sexism in our justice system.
Every bit matters, every feminist matters, your feminism and your definition of sisterhood needs to be confident enough to handle that.