Monday, 3 November 2014

This is not what a feminist looks like.

During the 1990s, I made a considerable effort to understand feminism. Jane Graham told me that men couldn't really be feminists (perhaps because they don't experience the embodied misery of mundane sexism), but I am, at least, sympathetic to what I understand to be feminism's intention. 

I read both Andrea Dworkin and Camille Paglia, Faludi's Backlash (and then Stiffed), engaged in conversations with feminist friends and supported anything that aimed to end systemic oppression. It got a bit difficult in the twenty-first century: things like the Slut Walk are more complicated than demands for equal pay and status, in their analysis of women's rights. 

But I still believe that certain manifestations of feminist thought - say, the domestic violence legislation developed in Scotland over the past decade, or support for Glasgow Women's Library or Crisis Centres - are an important part of shaping a compassionate and egalitarian society.

Of course, the deep culture that I pretended towards in the 1990s has shifted, and I am looking for new feminist role-models. As a student, I had all the great feminist academics who deconstructed Ancient Greek Drama. But the climate has changed, so I cast around to find the modern face of feminism.

It's Bill Bailey! Some people think I take sartorial advice from him, so he is a good start. I like his comedy music routines - especially when he does The Wurzels - and didn't he do a populist classical music series? I think they are great, because I can steal half-baked ideas from them...

But I haven't noticed a real feminist edge to his actual art.

Maybe the world of politics will provide me with more philosophical examples. In the 1980s, Dworkin and MacKinnon campaigned for anti-pornography legislation. They were part of the system and had an uncompromising stance (even if I found if problematic).

It's Nick Clegg! He's got the t-shirt. He's what a feminist looks like! 

A feminist looks like a man who makes a bold promise and then goes back on it once he has got what he wanted! He's the kind of guy who will destroy the optimism of a generation of students just so he doesn't look bad in front of his mates from the better private school! He's a sell-out, a political coward who failed to do what the population asked of him: to keep a tight reign on the Tories while punishing New Labour for their various compromises!

It's Ed! He must be a feminist, he is wearing the expensive t-shirt which was made in a sweatshop (according to The Mail).

A feminist looks like a man who is unpopular with the nation, who is headed a group that has so compromised its values that a traditional stronghold, Scotland, is so pissed off that they are joining The Greens in record numbers. 

Maybe it means that feminists have high foreheads? I mean, isn't 'what a feminist looks like' a campaign to show how a feminist can be anyone, but this is prescriptive, and going for celebrities rather than people who, like, actually, do feminist stuff.

This is what a feminist looks like.

Read the article. There may be some details that are challenging, or the philosophical underpinning might be problematic for some. 

I guess she just doesn't need to have a t-shirt and make a vague gesture in place of positive action. 

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