We need to talk about feminism

Imagine you’re in a church. There’s someone next to you praying. There’s a service and the person sings all the hymns and listens to the sermon. You have a chat with them at the end and they clearly believe that Jesus was the son of God. So you ask them “would you call yourself a Christian?” And they look horrified and say “oh no! I only believe that Jesus was the son of God and that you should love thy neighbour and stuff like that. Christianity is used to persecute people so no definitely not that!” Ridiculous right? No one would do that.

But this is the conversation people have about feminism every day, and it makes these people look ignorant and silly. Besides, we all know what a feminist looks like – it’s Nick Clegg in a White Tshirt, right?

This week, the Tory party put ovaries before Goveries, and picked two women to be their next potential leader – and our country’s prime minister. Which you might think is super progressive, but let’s be honest, both of them have messed up values when it comes to what life is like in the real 21st Century. May has some pretty dangerous ideas regarding the European Convention of Human Rights, which is concerning. Very concerning indeed. Leadsom, though, just appears to have such a warped, dated view of the world, how could she possibly help us progress as a nation?

“We all know what a feminist looks like – it’s Nick Clegg in a White Tshirt, right?”

Take gay marriage, for example. Leadsom stated she didn’t have a problem with gay people being in love, but she understood how gay marriage upset her Christian constituents because marriage is a Christian institution. Now, forgive me if I’m wrong, but didn’t people have wives in the Old Testament – like as in before Christianity was a thing? Her “wish” was that we introduced civil partnerships for heterosexual couples so marriage could be saved for the Christians. Nope, civil partnerships aren’t marriages lady, that’s why the gay couples were such sticklers for being able to get equal rights after civil partnerships were a thing. It’s a lack of understanding that makes her seem out of touch.

“If you think women should have equal rights to men, you are a feminist.”

Then there’s feminism. This is my little bugbear – people (like Leadsom) who say “I’m not a feminist because I think all people are equal”. That’s what feminism is. And some people will say “well some feminists are man haters”, and to that I say “some men are women haters, but it would be unfair for someone with a Y chromosome to feel ashamed to say he was a man because of that.” Equalist is not a thing. Peoplist is not a thing. Humanist is a thing, but it’s nothing to do with equality or gender. If you think women should have equal rights to men, you are a feminist. No more, no less. The reason you can do the things you do – vote, work, not marry, live alone, drive – is because of feminism.

“Look at the feminists you know – do they hate men?”

So, here’s what we have. A lady wants to be prime minister, says she’s not a feminist, but literally the ONLY reason she’s in the position to be running for PM is because of feminism… Sigh.

Is it fair that feminism should have such a bad reputation? Who has caused this reputation? Look at the feminists you know – do they hate men? Read anything by Caitlin Moran, she’s a feminist and she bloody loves men. Read some Roxanne Gay or Lindy West or Hadley Freeman. None of them are trying to obliterate men. They just want girls to get an equal piece of the cake, and sometimes that means calling bullshit on rape jokes or sexualising women.

“She’s a mum (if you hadn’t heard…)”

However, Andrea Leadsom, who has said she’s “not a feminist” is absolutely bang on. She’s not. But not because she thinks people are people, it’s because she’s bringing up things about being a woman that are irrelevant to her being prime minister. She’s a mum (if you hadn’t heard…) but who gives a toss? No one ever said “well I’d rather vote for David Cameron because he’s a dad”. Of course they didn’t. When the men are in the running, things like economics are considered, not whether they have working testes. And let me make this clear – the reason I am so annoyed is SHE DID THIS HERSELF! There was no man plotting her destruction in the background, she said that being a mother meant she had more investment in the future; working womb = better PM. She also withers on a bit too much about Sunday roasts for my liking. Seriously, did Tony Blair ever bang on about making chicken fajitas? Probably not…

In short, Andrea, we still need feminism. It’s not that long since we got the vote and didn’t have to give up work when we got pregnant. We are still not paid equally to our male counterparts. If you want to lead us, be part of the solution, because we need a feminist – male or female – at the top.

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