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A Carers Thought's

right from the start, you were a thief, you stole my heart

TW – Rape, Abortion

As it is International Women’s Day (IWD) it feels like an appropriate time to talk a bit more about feminism.

I have always been a feminist but have reached a point now where I feel it is a really defining feature of me. Since joining twitter, I have become much more aware of how important feminism still is. I strongly recommend following @everydaysexism and @TYFA . Everyday sexism (i) is an online project where you can submit any sexism you have experienced. There is page after page of women and men writing about the casual sexism that happens day in day out. It’s an important project and has featured some very serious and scary stories, most people who have complained when dealing with this have had little done about it. This project has been really eye opening for me and I find I am seeing sexism everywhere, I am trying to be more vocal and get people to think about what they are saying but I feel like I would constantly be picking up on people and honestly I couldn’t cope with doing it all the time, especially in work.

I feel guilty for this as I don’t feel I stand up for my beliefs often enough but at the same time I know you have to pick your battles wisely! I am also pretty sure that the boys in work do it to wind me up, they know I am a feminist due to my twitter activity and they want me to get angry.

I genuinely can’t understand why anybody would not be a feminist, why would you not want your daughter to have the same rights, opportunities and treatment as your son? We have got a lot closer to equal rights but there is so much ingrained sexism that there is still so much to be done.

It’s important to remember that sexism works both ways, for example at Christmas Asda ran an ad that attracted over 600 complaints with the tagline “Behind every Christmas there’s Mum”. It has since been cleared of being sexist by the ASA (ii) however the ad featured the father sitting around eating whilst the mother was run ragged sorting everything out. In my opinion this is reinforcing outdated stereotypes and is insulting to both men and women.  This is just one of many examples, if you sit and think about it, how many casually sexist remarks have you heard in the last week? When these stereotypes and the definition of genders are eradicated, we will be a lot closer to equal rights.

I think the most important subjects for feminism right now are:

  1. Violence against women and girls (VAWG)
  2. Abortion
  3. Rape culture
  4. Slut shaming

1 – I appreciate that there is violence against men too, however it is generally accepted that the majority of domestic violence is against women and girls (iii). This year the UN has chosen this as its main issue for IWD with the line: “A promise is a promise: Time for action to end violence against women” (iv). The worst example of VAWG in my opinion is Female Genital Mutilation (v), it is horrifying. I think we could achieve this with more refuges and support for victims, better education from childhood that violence is wrong in any circumstance and this must be reinforced with tougher sentences for perpetrators.

2 – I am passionately pro-choice about abortion, I strongly believe that every single woman worldwide should have access to a safe abortion. It is a very personal choice yet is a subject where around the world women are not deemed capable of making a choice about their own bodies. I believe that a woman should have this option for any reason. I doubt that many women take this decision lightly yet there are many places where it is only taken as a life saving measure. I am grateful to live in a country where I could access a safe abortion should I need to. It is a strongly debated topic in America, and Ireland has also been prominent in this subject with the recent death of Savita Halappanavar. If you wouldn’t have an abortion yourself, that is absolutely fine but please don’t believe you have the right to make choices for anybody else.

3 – The main issue within rape culture is the simple fact that victims are blamed for what the perpetrator does. There is no reason that will ever excuse a rapist from their crime. I love the picture below it really demonstrates how I feel about it, if a woman says no it means no, it doesn’t matter if she has ‘led you on’ all night, slept in the same bed, accepted a drink, paraded around naked, given you consent previously, been drinking etc.  I could go on all day but  the point is that nothing is ever a valid excuse for a rape. The recent ‘Would you see rape?’ campaign (vi) is a definite improvement on previous campaigns laying the blame clearly on the rapist and using the tagline ‘Sex with someone who doesn’t want to is rape’. It’s clear and accurate allowing for no misunderstanding. I also think it’s good to see it in a more realistic environment of a teenage party with people who appear to know each other. Only 9% of rapes are committed by a stranger in a strange environment (vii), the majority of rapes are committed by people that the victim knows in familiar places. This makes people much less likely to report it due to the fear of not being believed. The misconceptions that are commonly accepted can  make it hard for women to believe they have been raped, they are likely to find a reason to blame themselves as it doesn’t fit the common rape perception. If they are in the 15% of people who do report it, then there is less than a 6% chance (viii) that the offender will be convicted. This again is down to victim blaming.

Lets change this, make sure that victims are believed regardless of the circumstances, lets convict rapists and give victims the confidence to report them and get these people out of our communities and finally lets educate people properly.

4 – Slut shaming is a fairly new term but basically means that women are judged by different standards when it comes to sex. There is a great FAQ (ix) which goes into a bit more detail. First of all I object to the words slut, slag, slapper and any others with these connotations. These words are used simply to keep women under control and make them feel guilty. There seems to be no in between for women, if you enjoy sex and have lots of sexual partners you are a slag, if you don’t openly behave like this you are frigid. I have never really encountered anything similar for men, they are just ‘lads’. Even when aimed at a man, it is meant to be more of a compliment. Everybody should be entitled to behave however they want so long as they are not hurting anybody else. What difference does it actually make? Slut shaming is very common amongst women, I assume it is to make themselves feel better but why judge yourself by such stupid patriarchal standards?! It also ties in heavily to rape culture, if the victim is seen as a slut, she is much less likely to be believed, this can be particularly damaging for sex workers. I believe that so long as you are happy and healthy it really doesn’t affect anybody else, enjoy yourself and FTW (literally if you so wish!). We can only overcome this by calling people out on it and changing the standards we define ourselves and society by.

For me, feminism is just another word for choice.

I should have the choice to an abortion if I want one.

I should have the choice to wear what I like/behave how I like without attracting rape.

I should have the choice to report a sexual assault and confidence in having support of the police and courts.

I should have the choice to sleep with whoever I wish, however I want to without being subjected to slut shaming.

I should have the choice of any job I wish to do.

I should have the choice of an education.

I should have control over decisions concerning my body.

I am not the only one who should have these choices, so should every human being on the planet.

Please let me know what you think!

References

(i) http://www.everydaysexism.com

(ii) http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2013/jan/30/asda-christmas-ad

(iii) http://www.domesticviolencelondon.nhs.uk/1-what-is-domestic-violence-/25-domestic-abuse-against-men.html

(iv) http://www.internationalwomensday.com/theme.asp#.UTpN29a8G6V

(v) http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/crime/violence-against-women-girls/female-genital-mutilation/

(vi) http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/media-centre/news/rape-prevention

(vii) http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/commonmyths2.php

(viii) http://www.rapecrisis.org.uk/mythsampfacts2.php

(ix) http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2010/04/04/what-is-slut-shaming/

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