Uncomfortable Feminism


I am a feminist. I do not deny the term, I recognise that the movement has achieved far too much for me to deserve the disdain often given it. But I do not sit comfortably with the role.

I used to. Teenage Liza used to pump her fist in her air and shout "yeah" after reading each Caitlin Moran column and Laura Bates TED talk. Equality for women felt as simple as protesting the gender pay gap, and celebrating the success of Jane Austen appearing on the bank note in place of Elizabeth Fry, instead of another man. Didn't declaring myself a feminist automatically show that I wanted equality? Wasn't this exciting wave of feminism something that we should all subscribe to?

Then I grew up a little, opened my eyes wider to the world. I realised that, whilst my heroes were certainly defending my position and my right to be seen as an equal in this world, they weren't shouting for everybody. It was the face of the media, sure, but I started hearing voices outside of the mainstream media.

Black feminism, Islamic feminism, feminism for LGBTQ identifying people, where was their equality?

I have a voice, a voice amplified by my privilege. How can I fight my own fight without trampling on other people? How do I help their struggle without drowning them out?

More to the point, are we really fighting for the same thing?

Equality.

We all want it, right? But what does it look like in reality. Is equality my muslim friends having the right to wear the hijab, or are they being forced into it by society? Is society forcing me to shave my legs and wear make up each day? Does the fact that my male counterparts don't have to do the above mean that I will be being oppressed as long as I continue to do so?

As with all of my 'big question' posts all I have is more questions. The answers are something I wrestle with constantly. You too, no doubt, ponder these impossible subjects.

One thing I do know is that we must ask them, and we must listen to the answers provided by those who so rarely have a voice. This is the only way we can progress, and the only way that we have a hope at equality.