Why am I a feminist? I get asked that quite often, especially since February/ March time after the whole a shirt that says feminist business. So here’s a simple explanation from me as to why I call myself a feminist.
For decades women, especially women of colour have been oppressed and denied basic human rights. Rights involving their own bodies, futures and educations. And why were women denied these rights? Well, because they were women. I’ve never thought this was fair, and I was so naive for such a long time, thinking that oppression to women only exist very far away. Little did I know, it’s still extremely close to home. I’m a feminist because I believe women deserve just as much as men. If we do the same job, do the same thing, live the same life – why do the people with the boobs and vajayjays get denied privileges, rights and even a free life? It doesn’t make sense to me. I’m a feminist because I want to live in a world where individuals, despite the sex between your legs, despite which gender (if any) you identify with, I want a world where we can all live a free life, with the same rights, human rights.
Thinking back on it, I’ve faced some pretty heavy sexism and it’s only just hit me that the shirt incident wasn’t the first time I experienced someone mocking me for my beliefs or gender. I used to work in a night club and I knew that there would be some obviously sexist experience whilst working at the club but looking back on my time there, I had many sexist experiences. Before I go further, I just want to add that my experience at the club wasn’t an overall bad one, and none of my colleagues or employees were sexist. Just in case anyone got the wrong idea…
One instance, a guy wanted to be served asap despite him only just joining the extremely long queue on an extremely busy night. I didn’t serve him because I didn’t respect his attitude and his name calling to myself and my colleagues. We always were told not to serve anyone we didn’t feel comfortable serving. So that’s the advice we took. However, on my break I went outside for a drink and some fresh air. As soon as I got outside this guy was there and the harassment instantly started. Trying to ‘flirt’ with me to get me to give him free drinks and shots and so on. When I tell him to get lost, he tried to grab me. But as soon as one of the bouncers came out, his attitude completely changed. Why was it not okay to act like a completely crazy arsehole in front of a dude that could have easily squished him into a pulp? The answer: he was a dude. I told my bouncer friend what happened, and I didn’t see that guy ever again.
Another instance whilst working there, I had two female customers come to me behind the bar and tell me that they were scared. I immediately asked why and what was happening. They replied that a man was stalking them and that he followed them from one club to this one. I told them to go to the women’s toilet and lock the door of a cubical and I’d be right back. I had to find someone to let them know what the situation was, but before I could even get from behind the bar, this man walked into the female toilets. Those poor girls screamed as if they were about to be murdered. I got in the middle of him and them and told him to leave, but he just wasn’t having any of it. No respect was shown for me, for the girls, or for the fact that where he was, was specifically for those that identified as women – a place for them to have some private time. He tried to grab them and push them out, but thankfully the bouncers (my heroes) came to the rescue and chucked him the hell out of there. The poor girls left soon after and they were probably shaken up extremely badly.
Why did this guy think it was okay to violate a space that was designed for women to pee, do their makeup, have some relief, be in an environment where women are vulnerable? It seemed as if he didn’t care that it was a space for us. He wanted those girls to go with him. He wanted to be in there, thus he went in after them. Nothing mattered until another man stepped in and stopped him. Even an employee of the club telling him to get out didn’t matter, because I’m a 5’’3 female, who at the time was very blonde, and had a very soft personality. Even after threatening to cal the police, this man didn’t care. He wanted what he wanted and it took another man to get him away from the girls and myself. I don’t understand why you can respect the authority of 50% of humans but not the other 50%. I don’t understand what made me telling him to get lost different to having the bouncers telling him to get lost.
Those were the major incidents that I can think of that happened in the club. Not even going into detail about the minor names, touches and other gross thing people tried to get away with calling me and other girls behind the bar. And granted, I know not everyone will see these as being sexist incidents. I know some people might have answers. But for me, every single incident that happened got resolved by a man in the same position of power as me telling another man to piss off. I don’t want to come off and sound as if I’m saying ‘all men are pigs’ and ‘I was sexually harassed because I’m a girl’ – I’m just recalling some experiences that looking back on, are inexcusable.
Even during my time at university that’s slowly but surely coming to an end, I’ve faced a lecturer telling me that I cannot be a director because I’m a girl! Oh and don’t even think about me becoming an actress, I’m just not pretty enough for TV or film. I have the perfect face for radio. Yet everyone else, everyone else that’s a guy I mean, had high praises, had support and encouragement from this tutor. Now, if I wasn’t talented, if I hadn’t had praise in my production work, if I hadn’t had experience and proof of my talent and passion for directing and creating content – then I’d have been like ‘okay, no worries. Maybe it’s just not something for me to do’. But no. He told me quite openly and in front of a friend that I was unable to be successful in a role due to my gender. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he could say that to me. But then I listened ever so closely to what he said about women’s work in general. I can honestly say, he did not like women who were better than him in his own field of work.
Those are just some of my experiences with sexism and trying to get the credit I deserve and the respect needed to live and carry on with my life as a woman. But there’s countless other reasons too. Women of colour are far less likely to get paid equally or to even come close to narrowing the wage gap between men and women in the US alone. Now if that’s happening in a leading country like America, then what kind of message is that giving to us in the UK? Or people over in Australia? Europe? It sends a very weak message and a very poor quality of life for many women. So I stand up and fight for equal rights. I stand up and demand that the ‘Tampon Tax’ exists no more. I demand that we get recognition for the work we do. We are all human, and I just don’t understand why in 2017 that women are still fighting a fight that started long, long ago. I am a privileged person due to being white, but I’m going to use that privilege and the platform it gives me to inform others on the hardship other women, my friends, my family, go through every single day.
I’m a feminist because everyone should have a right to an education. Man or woman. It doesn’t matter if you are a male or female, gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, transexual etc. You deserve an education. I’m a feminist because I not only stand up for women’s rights, I stand up for human rights. I campaign for gay rights. I campaign for a fairer system in the work place, in education, in health care. I campaign for people to live happier, healthier and free lives. I’m a feminist because I stand up for fathers getting custody of their children if the mothers are unfit to care for the child. I’m a feminist because I welcome everyone openly into my life, and I will forever support human beings that deserve to be supported.
I’m a feminist because without other feminists, who knows where I’d be without them? Would I be writing this? Would I even be alive? Would I have had an eduction in Welsh? Would I even have had an education? What would my mother be like without feminists? What would my brother be like? My friends? My world? It’s such a simple movement that started off purely for women’s rights, but now as time has gone on, the movement has developed into campaigning for every person’s right to live as an equal human being. We’ve kept the name ‘feminists’ because it nods to the struggles and hardships the women who wanted equality for all went through. It marks the death, the struggle and the continued fight women face. It marks the taboo that even being labeled as something close to a female or a femme is frowned upon. But we’re not just fighting for ourselves. We’re not just fighting for our sisters, our sisters that are of colour, our sisters that were brought into the world in the wrong body, our sisters who are disabled, our sisters that are smart, poor, adventurous. Our future children and their sisters. We’re fighting for the humans. We’re fighting for love and peace. We just want equality. We just want respect. We just want to live a free life that no man or woman can control. So that’s why I’m a feminist. Because I want equality and respect for everyone despite their gender, their sexuality, their education history, their past, their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone is a human being, it doesn’t make sense to try to control one half of the population with oppression and bizarre rules that allow men to do one thing and women another.
I get ridiculed for not accepting apologies from Carl who took my photo without permission, who tried to tear me down. I had death threats because I voiced my opinion on MY situation. I had rape threats because I didn’t take the shit-storm sitting down. I’m a feminist because I get belittled for being a woman that supports other women, and men, and everyone in between. Does that make sense? No. It doesn’t. But that’s the way life is right now.
I appreciate that not all of you will be feminists, and you’ve got your own reasons and ideas and beliefs to support. And I’m so thankful that we can voice our opinions and express our beliefs in a safe environment without being ridiculed or judged by others. Thank you for letting me express my opinions and my beliefs. If anyone has anything horrid or belittling to say to me or anyone that comments, just know your comment will be deleted and I’ll know you’re a bit of a dick for trying to make others feel bad for sharing their beliefs with others.
I know this isn’t a usual post for me, but I’m really happy I finally had the chance to share this! It’s been playing on my mind for such a long time it’s been driving me crazy. Go forth and have an awfully big adventure and stand up for your rights, for me!