Why Be Feminist in 2015?

I’m not going to criticise Enthusiastic for the prompt but the question rather suggests that somehow everywhere in the world has come on in leaps and bounds regarding the position of women.

Oh potentially triggering – mention of murder and mutilation of women.

Well, not so much, Mexico has so many unsolved murders of women it’s untrue, Saudi Arabia has issues with women driving, and then there’s genital mutilation. This leads me on to my main point. There are feminists all over the world, some of them need more support from me in my white, British ivory tower – because although I am about to point out that we need feminism where I live as well I just pointed out a few countries that I have minimal or no personal experience of. I did not point them out because I think that they need me to go and save them or help bringing with me as I would issues of colonialism (and other stuff, but lets face it, as a Brit, that really is the main one) I pointed them out because I need to be aware of what other feminists are doing.

Something that bugged me to hell and back about American feminists in Japan was the amount that they would bitch about how rigid the gender roles of Japanese society were and how there weren’t any Japanese feminists at all. At that point I was working on art shows with my Japanese Teacher and Mad Woman, not to mention the Karaoke Queens and my Japanese Mothers and I knew damned well that feminism was alive and well in Japan but because it didn’t look like British feminism or American feminism in a lot of regards the Americans in large majority, dismissed it. It was sort of like the way I was told ‘Lesbians don’t exist in Japan’; because they didn’t look like the lesbians on American TV they weren’t perceived of as such. We need to remember that as feminists we are part of a worldwide struggle for equality – but that as cultural context changes so does what that equality looks like. Equal opportunities, equality of treatment, it’s not the same as being the same, it certainly doesn’t equate to being the same as the (majority) white western (One Twu) way of being feminist.

Being aware of what’s going on ‘over there’ isn’t enough though, especially not if that leads you to thinking that the only problems that need combatting are ‘over there’. Back to Female Genital Mutilation – an issue that has been presented as being ‘over there’ for years when actually it’s all over the shop. To be quite honest I think that by itself it’s a good enough reason to be a feminist in 2015.

But I have more, I’ve suggested that I, living as I do in the UK, am in a better position than women living elsewhere. I am, massively. I’ve lived in some places which were a lot worse in different ways, though the places I’ve been for a significant length of time (America, Japan) have been pretty decent. However, in no way should that be read as me saying that the struggle in the UK is over, that we’re equal now. We’re doing ok, frankly the wage argument seems to be less an issue of wages and now an issue of the perception of women – which, whilst being better than having to deal with the problems of being beaten to death or assaulted for being a woman, does not mean we don’t need feminism.

What we need to work on now, in the country is how the genders treat each other. What our rights and our responsibilities are as women – we should always, always be working towards equal rights and we have a responsibility to ensure that our sons and daughters are brought up knowing why we do this, why they need to do this. We have a responsibility towards other women to be feminists. To smash the patriarchy for men and women alike. Because its’ so close there’s something of a backlash, but it’s so tantalisingly close – we can do this!

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