Thursday, 16 February 2012

Why I'm Embarrassed to be a Feminist (and other stories involving bras & the internet)

*Quick disclaimer: I am not an academic expert in any of the following, nor am I claiming to speak on behalf of all of man/womankind or all feminists in the universe. I'm sure there are flaws in the arguments presented (there are sure as hell flaws in the grammar and generally appalling structure) but I'm an 18 year old with a blog and not a writer and these views are my own and not those of the BBC blah blah etc*

I will probably never stand up in front of a group of people who I don't know and tell them I'm a feminist. If you know what feminism actually is you'll think that's ridiculous, but the sad fact is that so many people don't know what the word actually means. This, to many, will sound condescending and preachy and you'll be thinking this is all so obvious but I can think of a lot, and I mean a LOT of people I know who are stuck in the stone age when it comes to feminism and egalitarianism in general. Even my sixth form English Literature teacher didn't actually know that third wave feminism was even 'a thing'. I don't actually understand how anyone can be intelligent enough to get through University and successfully gain a degree but be so completely unaware of actual real world issues, but that's another matter. The problem with feminism is that the word 'feminist' has so many connotations: all feminists are lesbians, feminists don't wear bras, don't shave their legs, feminists hate men, feminists are just women who are jealous of the attractive women who get more attention than they do. All of that is shit. Oh and another newsflash: feminists aren't all women.

Here are some of the stupid things I've heard about feminism (and why I think they're stupid. I'm not claiming to be an academic expert on the subject, but generally someone who is of sound mind unlike the hysterical 'feminists' of Tumblr who all want to lynch Caitlin Moran, or the 'but a woman's role IS in the home' prehistoric types.)

1. Feminists hate men.
This is probably my favourite myth because it's so absolutely hilariously insanely not true. Like, it doesn't even bear thinking about. I'm a feminist, right, because I believe in full gender equality. I also happen to be a straight woman who likes men. Quite a lot, actually. Hanging out with men, being friends with men, having sex with men, you know, men in general. That doesn't mean to say I don't enjoy female company, but when it comes to romantic inclination, I LIKE MEN. Feminists can be straight and feminists can be lesbian or bi or asexual or pansexual or even fancy plants if they really want to.

2. Feminists don't shave, and if you do, you're not a proper feminist.
For starters, if a man claims to be a feminist and he shaves his face, does it make him anti-feminist? (If a tree falls in a forest and nobody hears it, does it make a noise?) No but seriously, this is such a load of bollocks. I'm a feminist and I shave my legs, armpits and all the rest. The issue feminists have with shaving/waxing/otherwise removing body hair is not the fact that it shouldn't be removed, it's the idea that women are expected by society (in most western cultures) to remove hair and those who don't are seen as dirty or ugly. Feminists will argue that it should be the choice of the woman, not of the men (or women) she sleeps with or the culture she is part of,  whether to have body hair or not. I don't know who said this but I read it somewhere (and this is badly paraphrased but whatever) "As a woman, I should no obligation to shave my legs, and as a feminist, I should have no obligation not to". 

3. "Feminists: telling women what to do since men stopped."
Okay. I saw this one one of those stupid internet memes and like died on the spot. Feminism, in it's purest sense, does not 'tell women what to do.' Feminism is a movement which encourages CHOICE for women, in all areas. Choosing whether or not to shave because you WANT TO, not that you feel you have to. Choosing whether to have sex, and who to have sex with. (I'm not going to go into rape in this because I feel like that's a separate argument and I'd be here all year) Choosing whether (financially permitting, and I'm not about to blame all economic issues on misogyny) to work, or not to work. Feminism is about choice, not about telling people what they can and can't do. Secondly, the 'since men stopped' bit is ridiculous. To take a pretty obvious example: birth control. In the USA, abortion and birth control are highly contested issues which pretty much divide the nation in two (obviously there are pro-choice Reps and pro-life Dems but let's just generalise for a second). So let's get this straight: in a society where 'men have stopped telling women what to do' there are a bunch of men (and the US government is largely male) are using a woman's choice over what to do with her body as a political bargaining tool. And you're telling me it's the FEMINISTS who want to control women's bodies.

Caitlin Moran famously said in her book "How To Be A Woman": "Put your hand in your pants. a) Do you have a vagina? and b) Do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, you're a feminist" and I guess to an extent this is true. I can't see any reason why, if you have a vagina, you'd want someone else to be in charge of it, but I guess there'll always be one and I'm not speaking for all of humanity here. But you don't have to have a vagina to be a feminist. People of all genders can be feminists so long as they believe in equality between genders. (I don't really want to get tied up in transgender issues within feminism though, not because I don't think it's important because it really is, but just because I don't know enough about it to be able to properly articulate what I want to say, but if it's something you want to know more about, welcome to the internet, Google is your friend).


Basically, I'm lucky in that a lot of the people I choose to associate with show even basic understanding of this. Most of my friends would see themselves as feminists and those that don't (hopefully) will once they've read this. But sadly I also know a lot of people, men AND women, who genuinely don't think gender equality is desirable or necessary. And that's sad.
It's sad that we live in a society in which 'feminist' is thrown about as an insult. Every belief system has its extremists, and feminism is no different. There will always be the scary, militant 'feminists' who think a girl who shaves their armpits is a traitor to the cause, and there will always be people who don't advocate feminism. But I speak for myself in saying that, as a straight female who wears a bra and shaves her body hair and likes men (possibly too much), I'm a feminist because when I graduate from university and set about finding a career, I want to be paid the same amount as the males who do the same job as me. I want to be able to choose what I do with my own body, be that with regards to appearance or health issues, and choose what I do with my own life, be it education or work or travelling doing absolutely fuck all. I don't think that it's wrong for a woman to be a housewife and to cook and to clean, as much as I don't think that it's wrong for a woman to be career-focused, so long as it is their choice. Women and men alike should have the choice to live their lives how they want, and be treated as equals. That is the point of feminism.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

February 16th, a series of questions about bands.

Taken from my top 50 artists on last.fm

1. How did you get into 31?
The Breeders - "No Aloha" was on a playlist that was made for me ages ago and I downloaded the album it's taken from, Last Splash, after that.
2. What was the first song you ever heard by 22?
The Maccabees - I can't remember, it was forever ago, but I think it was probably either Latchmere or About Your Dress. In fact, I remember seeing the About Your Dress video with the fingers, so probably that.
3. What’s your favourite lyric by 41?
The Moldy Peaches - Oh god they're just hilarious. "Who mistook this steak for chicken/who am I gonna stick my dick in?" is quite the classic.


February 14th 2012, the least romantic Valentine's Day of all time.

I am not single and bitter. I'm not even single, and only a tiny bit bitter. I really hate Valentine's day, though. It just seems to me like a completely pointless exercise, if you're in a relationship you should be appreciating each other for the other 364 days of the year, not just February 14th. Not that I would expect flowers and cards every day - so I don't expect those on Valentine's day either. I just don't like the idea of being out for dinner in a room full of couples drinking champagne that they got free for booking the table, or spending the day doing "couple things". I'm not really a romantic at the best of times, and V-Day just seems to bring out the worst in me, so I just try to avoid it as much as possible. This year I think I did this better than I ever have before, albeit completely unintentionally.

On Monday, the day before V-Day, I went over to Manchester, where my boyfriend is at Uni. That night, me and some friends went to see Justice at Manchester Academy (who were very very good even if I was way too drunk to appreciate it properly). My friend Leah and I went to a cashpoint at some point during the night, and as I crossed the road to get to it, my ankle completely gave way under my foot, causing me to stumble across the road. (I wasn't wearing heels. I wasn't even that drunk...) but anyway it hurt a bit but it was mostly just hilarious and Leah and I just laughed about it for ages and then she found a bottle of rum in a bush and I think she drank it in the taxi. I went back to my boyfriend's flat where I was staying and went to sleep.

I am making this story far more boring by dragging it out, sorry. I find it hard to be concise.

Anyway, the next morning I woke up at about 6am with a splitting headache and the feeling that somebody had scrubbed my mouth out with sandpaper (I blame the Sailor Jerry*), so I got out of bed to get a drink and brush my teeth. I stood up and walked to the kitchen which is when I noticed the excruciating pain that was coming from my right foot, but desperate for hydration and a toothbrush I soldiered on. When I turned the kitchen light on, I discovered that half of my foot had turned a fetching shade of purplish blue, and cursing my drunken self, I went back to bed. Cut to 11am and I wake up again properly (lazy I know) and Joshua says good morning and then goes and gets me a glass of water (I have him well trained) (I'm joking) but anyway then he gives me a Valentine's card which I am secretly pleased with even though pretending to be all I-thought-we-weren't-doing-Valentine's and it transpires he's bought us tickets to see Green Day's American Idiot musical which I am very very excited about (thank you Josh if you're reading this!) and then I go, Josh look at my foot and it's all swollen and purple and gross. Then Josh's mum rang him and he mentioned my foot, and she said I should probably go to the hospital to get it checked, but being me I was all, "I'll be FINE" and was adamant that I did not need to go to the hospital because I was indeed fine. Then my mum rang me and we had pretty much the same conversation.

3 hours later and we're in the A&E department of Salford Royal Hospital and Josh is amusing himself by pushing the wheelchair that I'm sat in across the room so I go flying. I get x-rayed by a student doctor who looks about 14 years old but has one of the ugliest tattoos I've ever seeen, and then spend another few hours just waiting. I'm quite impatient and I was getting a bit wound up by the whole affair (I was FINE) so you can probably imagine how pissed off I was when the doctor told me that I had indeed broken my foot and I'd have to have a cast. I've never broken a bone before and being unfamiliar with the healing process, I imagined this would last about 2 weeks tops. So off we go to the plaster room (which was IMPOSSIBLE to find) and I'm there in a stupid hospital gown because I'd worn skinny jeans for some unknown reason, and had to take them off for the cast, and this nurse is going on about taking my nail varnish off and I really don't even care, I just want to be out of the hospital. After she'd put the cast on, as a sort of afterthought I asked when I could have it taken off. She said four to six weeks. I nearly died. Then a short, bald man gave me a quick lesson in walking with crutches, and we got a taxi back to the flat, me still in my hospital gown, looking like a prize cretin. Josh kept laughing at me at random intervals throughout the day and reminding me that it was a good job he insisted we went to A&E or I could've ended up being a "Timmy"** forever. He was right but I'm not very good at admitting that I was wrong so I didn't say much. Then we went back to the flat, and ate some leftover pizza. We were supposed to go out for dinner but that plan went out of the window when I became an invalid. Then my best friend, Beth, came over and we watched Shameless with Josh's annoying Australian flatmate, Dave. The four of us, Josh pissed off that I'm the world's crappiest Valentine's Day Celebrator, Beth pissed off because she's tired and hungover, me pissed off because I can't walk, and Dave not pissed off because he's too boring to get pissed off about anything. And we all just sat there, having the least romantic Valentine's day of our lives, and then went to sleep.

Rosie made this for me though:

* I was bought a bottle of Sailor Jerry from both my parents and from Josh for Christmas, I don't know which bottle it was, so I'm blaming all of them for my misfortune.
**exceptionally crude South Park reference, Josh's words, not mine...

Compulsory boring introduction post.

I'm not really sure who's going to read this. I'll probably put a link on twitter and then a few nosy bastards who follow me will have a look hoping to find interesting stuff and then they'll realise I'm properly boring (as if they didn't already know this from twitter/real life) and close the page and not bother again.

I'm Harriet, I'm 18 and I'm from Yorkshire. At the time of writing this, I have a broken foot due (my next post will explain further) and it's 1:30am and I am awake watching Family Guy repeats that I recorded earlier in the event of me being awake when there's nothing on tv. This happens to me quite often. I have loads of other, more productive stuff I could be doing, such as re-reading my set texts for English or a long-overdue History essay but in all honestly all that is wildly unappealing at present.

My main talent is wasting time, I'm REALLY good at it.