Would I call myself a feminist?
There has been quite a bit of discussion over this of late, with some people rejecting it, and others trying to redefine it. So where do I stand?
Well I would call myself a feminist. I accept that, as with so many other labels that I would take for myself, that others would not agree with my assignation - others might consider that I am not really a feminist. So what do I mean by the term?
I think it means - for me - someone who has respect for women, who does not discriminate against women by virtue of their gender, someone who believes that women have been badly treated throughout a lot of history, and there is a time to change this.
That is a somewhat philosophical approach to feminism, so what does it mean in practice - this is where some may disagree? I should point out that it does not mean treating women with kid gloves, refusing to engage with them in case I offend them. I think that is demeaning to women, and demeaning to myself.
I am a person who makes jokes. Sometimes they are funny, sometimes not. Sometimes I will make comments about people - to people - humourously, and sometimes jokes relating to their gender, but never demeaning, never dismissing. Actually, I will make similar remarks to men, relating to their gender too. You might not like it, but I do make these comments to the people, not behind their back.
I think that is important. I accept that a joking, humourous atmosphere has its risks, but I will make comments to everyone, not based on gender, and not behind their backs. And, when a comment is made that someone does find offensive, I apologise - because offense is never meant.
So feel free to dismiss me if you want.
I believe that for me to be a feminist means that I do not take into account a persons gender. I believe in taking into account their skills and talents, what they say, what they do. If someone is being stupid in what they say and do, I might be dismissive of them. But it is not related to their gender.
What is more, I believe that I have to acknowledge that women have historically been demeaned, oppressed, refused the opportunities that they deserve based purely on their gender. There is a need to make some changed to the system to counter this. There are times when women have to be given extra opportunities to make up for this, but not in terms of tokenism, but that women of appropriate ability need to be given chances. I am not in favour of explicit positive discrimination, I am in favour of women being treated equally, which may mean a little bias to counter a natural negative bias.
That might be all too subtle. You might want to dismiss me as a feminist if you want. That doesn't bother me.
So let me get less subtle. You can challenge me on my feminism, when we have no more page 3. You can challenge me on my feminism when the Church of England makes women equal, rather than having parishes where women priests cannot exercise their ministry, and where women can rise to the highest levels of the church. You can challenge me on my feminism when the institutionalisation of far more explicit sexism in the business world, in politics, in so many areas of life.
I am not a perfect feminist. I am not a perfect person, in many ways. But I do believe that people should be treated as human beings, irrespective of their gender. That means that don't treat them any worse, or any better than anyone else.
And I will continue to call myself a feminist.
--it also means that he demeaning page 3 stuff is broken.