Yesterday I caught up on blogs, as is my wont during the weekend. I read the ever FoxyJonno’s blog and cringed…then I read the Curious Orange’s response….I was so embarrassed.

I am a feminist.

I am in the Vagina Monologues and exhibiting my artworks at the Vagina Monologues.

I cannot believe that feminists still think they ought to act like anything other than ordinary considerate human beings.

There is a time to protest, there is a time to have a political debate, it is not in the middle of Lonsdale bar on a Friday whilst collecting for your charity.

There was a group of women, the Suffragists, during the period before women got the vote who said that men would give them the vote if they only acted rationally (like men were supposed to), they thought that the acts of the more radical Suffragettes only harmed the movement. I disagree, I believe there is a difference between active and passive repression: active repression is preventing any section of people/person from accessing their human rights; passive repression is being unaware of the issues surrounding a group of peoples/persons human rights.

My personal belief is that when faced with active repression you fight as hard as you can (if the active repression is armed with shotguns then my beliefs may undergo some changes). Passive repression is different, for one thing you can’t tell who’s doing it.

Passive repression is about ignorance and that is what the Vagina Monologues is supposed to fight; ignorance. We are not facing men telling women that we can’t think properly and so do not deserve suffrage. We are not facing corporations (until you get to high up positions in the City and in some sections of the Armed Services) telling us we do not work as hard and so do not deserve as much pay as men. We are facing people who do not know that one in ten women who are raped feel comfortable reporting it, people who do not know that only 10 percent of rape cases reach a conviction, people who do not know that over half the perpatrators of rape are men that the victims know. But, and I think this is where the FemSoc representatives in Lonsdale missed the point, not everyone is ignorant of this. Us feminists are not the only ones who have access to this information. The world is not divided up into those who know this (feminists) and those who don’t (everyone else).

Political decisions are necessarily based on knowledge and people do find out and understand about all sorts of questions before making there minds up, not, however, everyone, those blissfully ignorant souls who believe something because ‘Mum said..’ or ‘Dave down the pub said…’ or best of all ‘this bloke said…’ However, once you have made your intelligent political decision you should feel secure enough in it that you do not see every question based around it as an attack. How embarrassing for a feminist to isolate and attack her allies, people who are not ignorant of the issues, to just assume that everyone is against her. How embarrassing to hear that someone (who in my view has made the correct political choice) is so insecure in their choice as to need to attack the slightest movement.

The nineteen seventies are over sisters and boy what a lot of damage they did for the movement of feminism. Are we really going to achieve equality by screaming about our genitalia? In the middle of Lonsdale bar? To people who care…or did?

How embarrased I am to admit that there are foolish people who are feminists who have no idea about how to behave.

How proud I am to belong to a group of women who are putting on the Vagina Monologues (in the face of actual and not precieved adversity) and are raising money for the local womens refuge. Men are not our enemies, ignorance is our enemy and you do not fight it by screaming and shouting, you fight it with persistance and education: the reason for the Monologues in the first place.

How dare there be ignorance anywhere…but most of all within the ranks of those who should be fighting it.

14 thoughts on “Embarrassed

  1. Thinking of them, when are the Vagina Monologues and where can i get tickets? I missed it last year and refuse to repeat that.

    Also, I got your message, I’m afraid we’re staying in for a table delivery, but you’re welcome to pop round if you like.


  2. with reference to the suffragists, I think it was a two way thing between them and the suffragettes. The suffragettes relied on the arguments on the suffragists, the argument had already been won by the time the suffragettes began their campaigns, they sometimes put the movement back by reenforcing the "emotional woman" stereotype. It was the war more than anything that got women the vote, but that effect was only possible because the suffragists had already won the intellectual arguments.

  3. Fluzz:
    Vagina Monologues info
    It’s on the 14th and 15th February. You can get tickets (I think) from the Nuffield Box office, which is just inside the Jack Hilton Music Rooms on the right hand side. If not, they’ll probably know where you can get them.

  4. Mis UD is right: you can get tickets for the Nuffield from the Nuffield Box Office, or, if you fancy coming to see us ar The Grand on the 27th you can get tickets from their box office too.

  5. I’m not sure what you mean Jo when you say the argument had already been won when the Suffragettes began their movement; suffrage had not been granted to women, in what way had the intellectual arguments been won?

  6. I mean nobody was really disputing the case for women having the vote by about 1900, it’s just that neither party (liberals or tories) then had the guts to put it through parliament. It was around this time that the suffragettes started their more high profile campaigns.

  7. Jo, you’re an intelligent man, I know this. But frankly some people still don’t believe women should have the vote. Yes you can mock and call them neaderthals along with most feminists…well except for women who belong to religious organisations like the Plymouth Brethren who aren’t even certain they have souls half the time.
    If, as you have said the intellectual arguments had been won why did it take ten years from the enfranchisement of women (1918) for it to be lowered to twenty one like the male vote (1928)?
    Who had the intellectual arguments been won by? Who had they been had by? The intellectuals? The intellegentsia?
    Female suffrage was an argument had by the likes of Mary Wollstonecraft and Charles Godwin, largely in essays and the written word….any idea what the literacy rate was before 1900? Any idea what the female literacy rate was before 1900?
    Intellectual arguments don’t mean squat until they are had by the general populace. They are pleasant over dinner discussions had by earnest people with a university education like you and I and they do not count in the real world until they are had by everybody. The Suffragettes movement meant that everybody knew about the issues, everybody could talk about female emancipation.
    Until women had the vote the intellectual arguments counted for squat.

  8. I know what you’re saying but, in regards to getting the law changed, it is the intelligentsia who matter. The reason I say that the intellectual arguments were won by 1900 was that, from about that time onward, no politician could try any of the traditional arguments against women voting without getting laughed at. The fact that we no longer have a death penalty in this country is proof that it is the intellectual arguments among the educated that make the laws rather than the beliefs of the population. Whether that is right or not is another matter but it is the case.

  9. So please explain to me if it is only the intellectual arguments that matter and they had all been won by 1900 why no politician ‘had the guts’ to put the law regarding female suffrage through parliatment?

  10. because there was still the Lords to deal with, all hereditaries at that time, even less inclined to listen to rational argument than now.

  11. So when you say that ‘nobody was really disputing the case for women having the vote by about 1900’ what you actually mean is that nobody who you deem important was disputing this…so thats what? The intelligentsia who’d had a university education and some people who could read. So most of the population who can’t read and any hereditary peers, who at that point had a fair amount of political power are nobody? Jo I never realised your brand of political intellectualism was so elitist. It’s the intelligensia who matter when it comes to getting the law changed? Well not by your own arguments, by your own arguments it comes down to hereditary peers who don’t listen to rational arguments.
    Like I said the intellegensia have nice ideas to talk about over the dinner table, its only when it gets out of that after dinner conversation and out into the real world that those ideas start to matter.

  12. I mean that it is possible to disagree with something and vote against something despite having no rational arguments against it. The repeal of section 28 is a case in point. There was nobody willing to come out and say that section 28 was good because it discriminated against homosexuals, but the tories and many peers still voted to keep it. I’m not saying people who disagreed with women’s suffrage don’t matter, I’m saying they weren’t putting up rational arguments, or even attempting to. In that sense the arguments had already been won. If the suffragette movement had such an effect, why was it that it was only after they suspended their activities in support of world war 1 that suffrage was granted?

  13. I’m still seeing a certain amount of intellectual elitism in your arguments Jo.

    ‘I’m not saying people who disagreed with women’s suffrage don’t matter, I’m saying they weren’t putting up rational arguments, or even attempting to. In that sense the arguments had already been won.’

    My point was that until women got the vote in actuality it doesn’t matter one way or the other whether the intellectual arguments had or had not been won.

    ‘If the suffragette movement had such an effect, why was it that it was only after they suspended their activities in support of world war 1 that suffrage was granted?’

    It’s a good question, and one that I believe shows that the intellectual arguments really don’t matter one way or another. Few people in Britain actually cared whether women got the vote or not whether there were intellectual reasons or not. However I think that the suffragettes were the reason that women got the vote in 1918 and this is why: In 1917 the conservative powers within Europe saw for the second time how bloody a revolution concerned with social equality could be. If the movement for the enfranchisement of women had purely been made up of Suffragists then it is entirely possible to believe that Parliament wouldn’t have made the connection between the women’s suffrage movement and the Russian Revolution. However they could see the connection and the 1918 Representation Of The People Act was a limiting device enacted by people who had seen how irrationally educated people could be made to act in Russia the year before.

  14. You may be right. Please understand that I’m not saying it’s a good thing that only intellectuals and the upper classes that are involved in law making, but it is the truth. How many of the suffragettes, even, were from working class backgrounds? This is why I don’t think it makes any difference what the majority of people thought, just as with the death penalty. The intellectual arguments sway MPs, and with the parliament act after 1912 that was all that was needed. It may be that this was part of the reason the age was 30 to begin with – it could be got through the Lords without the parliament act and also while keeping Lloyd George’s government in power, some of the less enlightened tories might have baulked at men and women being given equality. I must confess I haven’t thought of it from the persepctive of the threat of revolution before, though I’m not sure of the extent to which the government of the day would have taken the threat seriously, particularly given the patriotic nature of the suffragette movement.

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