Admitting My Privilege And Realising I’m A Feminist After All
By Cara Sutra
It’s International Women’s Day and I’m an angry woman. I’m also a nasty woman, but that’s another story for another day. Why am I angry? Well… I’m certainly angry about the injustices, censorship and abuse women around the world still face despite the fact that we’re well into the 21st century. Not that it was ever OK. Plus, I’m angry about the cultural acceptance of the patriarchy and women shrugging it off like it’s one of the laws of nature, unchangeable. But right now, at the risk of being hypocritically self-absorbed, I’m really fucking angry with myself.
A past blog post has been playing on my mind for the past year or so, and in the end I’ve taken it down. No, I’m not leaving it up for posterity’s sake, it’s simply too embarrassing. Yet when I wrote it, I (obviously) stood by everything I said. The blog post was about why I’m not a feminist. I’m crimson simply admitting this to you. Realising how privileged I am, experiencing shifts in my views due to introspection and emotional maturity over the years has led me to the conclusion that I am indeed a feminist after all.
Not only am I a feminist, but stating that I wasn’t a feminist was unchecked privilege, stupidity and naivety of the highest degree. I am very sorry that I was so narrow-minded and blind.
Before, I thought that being a feminist was being one of those people who supported everything for ‘women first, men later -or not at all’. Some label these people ‘feminazis’, which is probably hypocritical looking at the themes of the debate. I don’t want to yet again be rudely dismissive of others’ viewpoints. I’m certainly not a woman who looks at life on the basis of what women can get out of it first, at the cost of or detriment to men. I’m no man-hater, the people I love most in my life all identify as male. I’ve come to realise that the ‘women’s wants at the cost of men because men are stupid’ philosophy isn’t actually what feminism is about.
I believe that all women, wherever they’re located and whatever their background, ethnicity, culture, religion – whatever – should have the freedom to do as they please. Obviously within the confines of the usual laws of the land. That’s it; simple freedom – and to not ever be prejudiced against, censored, hampered in any way, belittled, abused, denied freedoms and rights on the basis of gender or for any other reason which isn’t a legal one. On top of these statements, I believe that the laws of every land should work in the same manner: laws for people, never a distinction or bias due to gender.
That’s the dream, and to me, that’s feminism. Whether you simply agree with that or you agree with it AND you’re able to play a more active role in making that dream reality, through campaigning, rallies, other projects, the marches – you’re a feminist.
Today, on International Women’s Day, I have not only seen a great deal of bullying, abuse and belittlement of women by men, but I’ve also seen a shocking amount of privilege let loose by some women themselves. No, International Women’s Day isn’t about celebrating being girly, nor is it about kicking men or threatening their role in society. International Women’s Day doesn’t impinge on men’s rights in any way. And yes, there is an International Men’s Day actually, it’s November 19th. Yep, every year. Ever wondered why it doesn’t get the same publicity and why people haven’t heard of it? It’s almost like it’s not required.*
My reasons for writing this article were two-fold. I wanted to publicly apologise for my previous, shameful feminism failings and have it recognised that I am a feminist. Also, I hoped to motivate others who don’t understand the need for feminist campaigns and awareness projects, such as International Women’s Day and the Women’s Marches to look on them with fresh eyes. To think beyond your own privileged life – as much as you might be grateful for your own rights and freedoms – and to recognise that you’re not actually every woman. Sorry, Chaka Khan. Too many women in the world still face injustice, censorship and erosion of their rights (or no rights at all) based simply on their gender.
As I said in my Women’s March article:
It would be easy for me to think there’s no problems in the world when it comes to women’s voices not being heard, their rights not being respected and gender equality. Because in my little world, everything’s pretty much fine & dandy thank-you-very-much.
In my opinion it would be a mistake to think that women’s rights and related issues only need addressing and correcting in such places as developing countries. America has just put a guy in charge who thinks it’s fine to grab women by the pussy, thinks it’s fine to talk about women like they’re possessions and objects and who threatens women’s rights simply by existing with these attitudes, never mind the documents he may be signing. This is in the so-called land of the free, where tolerance and rights for all are apparently core values.
Do you think women should have the same rights and freedoms as men? Do you think women should not be discriminated against due to their gender? Are you in agreement that just because a woman might not want a certain aspect of life, a certain career, a family, a relationship – that she should have the right – legally, culturally and every other way – if she did want them?
Then you’re a feminist. And so am I.
Happy International Women’s Day, everyone. Maybe one day it will be a happy day for every woman in the world.
*…for the same reasons as I believe International Women’s Day is. Men and boys have their own issues which need addressing and awareness raised, but that’s not what I’m discussing here.
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