Belfast Telegraph

Why do some women still think feminism is a dirty word?

By Nuala McKeever

I'm boiling. And not just because of the heat. It's 26 degrees outside as I write this, but inside, the temperature's even higher. I'm about to blow a gasket, such is the fire of anger and frustration burning in my heart/soul/mind.

Some of it's about the outright slaughter of children in Gaza. Of course it is. Who can look at photos and film of people blown apart by a neighbouring government while the world watches, either cheering or impotently tut tutting, but ultimately doing next to nothing to stop it?

But you can only stomach so much of those images so eventually you turn to something else for distraction. Something to restore your faith in humanity. And what do you find?

Jihadists in Northern Iraq apparently threatening to force Female Genital Mutilation onto millions of girls and women.

Ok, enough already with the crazy mad men over there. Let's turn to stories closer to home. Gangs of boys in England target sisters and girlfriends of their rivals for rape, to get at their male counterparts.

Well, that's not cheering us up too much, surely to God there must be something positive. I'll try the 'Women's Interest' section and see what the sweet, lovely gals are saying for themselves amid all this dreadful woman-hating.

And that's where I come across Women Against Feminism. It's a new thing. Started last year on something called Tumblr. Now it's on Facebook. Females put up photos of themselves holding cards that say "I don't need feminism because ..." followed by a statement of their choice. So far I've seen, "... because I like it when men give a compliment to my body" and "... because I like Christian Grey in 50 Shades. Smiley face."

Oh drop the bomb and start again, puhleeeeeeeeeze!!!

Silly, ignorant, vacuous wee girls with absolutely no thoughts beyond their own self-absorbed inanities.

You wouldn't get that sort of ridiculous, ill-conceived nonsense being spouted by any female who's grown up with awareness of the need to be involved in the world, who realises that Politics, Rights and Equality are worthy concepts, not nite clubs.

But no, read further and you'll discover gems from seemingly intelligent thoughtful older women, like, "I don't need feminism because I believe all people are equal and I'm a woman and I'm not oppressed."

Oh dear.

I shouldn't be surprised really. Even women who you'd think would be well informed, women right here in Belfast, women who've had the benefit of education and equality legislation and rights for women, women in political office, you still hear them say, "I'm not a feminist but ..."

Sorry? What is it, a dirty word that you'd have to distance yourself from?

Feminism – definition in the dictionary: "The advocacy of women's rights on the ground of equality of the sexes."

Which bit of this is objectionable?

Is there ANYTHING in the definition of feminism, that ANYONE with a beating heart could POSSIBLY object to?

Oh you don't agree with abortion? That's not feminism.

You don't like flat shoes? That's not feminism.

You don't want to stop fancying men? That's not feminism.

You like wearing make up? That's not anti-feminism.

You aren't fussed on watching the news? That's not anti-feminism.

You like your husband to do the DIY and you do the shopping? That's not anti-feminism.

Just for the record – the world needs feminism so badly right now, it's untrue. If you care about people, you are a feminist. If you don't, then say so. Just don't get the terminology mixed up. It gives us a bad name.

All that crying isn’t allowed, Dakota

Just watched the trailer for 50 Shades of Grey. First impression? Jamie Dornan, playing 27-year-old Christian Grey, cool, smouldering, every woman’s dream tycoon, looked about 12-years-old, with a Brillo pad hairdo.

Is he meant to look underage? Is that what they meant by describing the books as “mummy porn”.

Somehow, I doubt it.

Word of advice to the lead actress Dakota Johnson — if she’s going to keep crying out in pain/ecstasy, she’d best avoid that cafe in Co Kerry where the sign says “No loud Americans”.

Living on the Fringe of cool

I’m off to Edinburgh to put on my one-woman play, In The Window, for a month, at the Fringe Festival.

Last time I was over there performing was in 1991 with the Hole In The Wall Gang. I was 27. So much has changed.

I hope I don’t feel too old and out of touch with the young thangs, like wot we wuz back then. In those days our main concern was having enough money for drink and surviving on next-to-no sleep.

Now I’m Googling drop-in yoga classes and health food outlets. I know. Not very rock ’n’ roll. Ah well, at least I’ll sleep well.

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