Feminists no doubt often wonder if they are making any impact on the word at all. People seem to think they are a movement of the past, that feminists haven't walked the earth since the braless 1970s, or that feminism is no longer required. So perhaps it is encouraging to see there's now a Change.org petition urging the US government to classify feminism as a terrorist organisation. Janet Wilkinson believes it is time feminism stopped interfering with men and women who have chosen a lifestyle and which to stick with it. Yeah you thought feminism was about allowing men and women et al to pick the lifestyle that's right for them and have the freedom to live it in safety but Janet says you are wrong, wrong, wrong.
Last month Commons Speaker John Bercow told BBC Radio 4's PM programme that women MPs find Prime Minister's Questions "so bad" that they increasingly refuse to take part. No one really went for it. Which is odd because if your local MP is a woman and you wish her to represent you, or give her money to big up Fiji or something, then you need her to take part in PMQs. Last week a hotline was launched for MPs and staff to report harassment. Last month Beyonce launched a hashtag campaign asking #whatispretty? and recently Dove released the results of a survey that revealed 90% of women feel bad when they look in the mirror, they have begun The Beauty Project with Selfridges. We know women have a confidence problem. So why do we keep addressing it only by treating the surface?
So, Max Clifford, the man whose face has become familar to us as the white haired man standing by a celebrity who has narrowly missed disgrace, has met his own disgracing, from which PR can't save him. Clifford is one of the many white haired men who have been trooping in and out of court to discuss crimes they allegedly committed against young girls years ago. However many of these men have fans who feel a strong affection for them on account of a past gig hosting a now rather quaint show in which they entertained us by wobbling large sheets of card to a tune or announcing Bucks Fizz as the next act. However it's hard to dredge up affection for someone who does a job like Max Clifford, and due to being found guilty of eight indecent assaults on women and girls - some of whom were no more than 15 years old at the time - there is going to be no fond nostalgia for Max.
Hi! Thinking of starting up a feminist activist group, gathering or collective in your city/town/village/hamlet? Whether you're setting it up at university or down the pub (I favour the latter - partly because I am not at university, partly because pub) one of the first things you should consider is whether or not you intend this to be women only or not. If you decide it is to be women only you have to decide whether you mean cis-women or people who identify as women. It's only two decisions and yet, and yet. You have to consider the notion of 'safe space', the idea that you might want to be welcoming (I hear people like that stuff) to all or some and what will work for your feminist gathering. The same goes for a feminist book. Is your intended audience women or feminists?
A few years ago I wrote a thesis on Drag Kings. I wrote about music hall and the advent of women on stage. And I wrote about Drag Queens. I have written before about how my feminism has changed dramatically over the years. Because most people's gateway feminism is Greer I think many cis white feminist women will tell you that they went through a period of...hmm not dislike but maybe a belief that drag queens were taking the piss out of womanhood. And anyone who lives to be The Whole Woman will no doubt feel a scepticism about trans (I am not saying drag and trans are by any means the same incidentally - but I note often reasons for hostility are weirdly similar). That is putting it lightly. It is put lightly because transphobia is not properly recognised yet. A dinner party won't suddenly fall into an uncomfortable silence because someone uttered a transphobic slur in jest. But it's time we moved on from Greer's chapter on "Pantomime Dames" and recognise that we are seeing a threat in the wrong places.
A survey has revealed that women who have reached the age of 51 feel invisible to the opposite sex. Far from ignite an opportunistic crime wave it seems, from a pool of 2000 women over 50 (the number of women who participated in this survey) it appears this has resulted in a group of women of a certain age being sad and dejected. Considering on average women have an extra 5 to 10 years of living to do compared to these men who fail to notice them past a certain point - apparently due to an immune system that ages slower and probably because of that jolly saying used in the medical profession regarding men and their ability to visit doctors: 'women get sick and men die' - it's a long time to feel that you are going unnoticed.
It is a secret fantasy of mine, usually after a Sunday watching too many Miss Marples (Geraldine McEwan episodes, please. At a push maybe Joan Hickson) and Midsomer Murders, to become a country village vicar. With a Baptist/Athiest upbringing and Catholic school education I'd have no idea what was going on and therefore my congregation would be most confused by my slapdash ways. In my fantasy, however, it is always sunny at my old countryside vicarage and I can garden as I solve mysteries and make it no concern of mine that the village has an awful high murder rate. I spend little to no time counselling my flock or writing services. I think it would be a lovely quiet life. In reality it would no doubt be more Father Ted than Vicar of Dibley. More c*nty parish thancountry. The reality for woman vicars (woman vicars who don't see vicaring [technical term] as a righteous opt out scheme) is apparently a life of abusive comments, being spat at and receiving pornographic letters.
The Walton sextuplets are 30. Having caused a media stir at birth beating the odds given to their mother Janet Walton who was told at 16 that conception was unlikely anITV documentary is due to air soon covering the sextuplets' lives as adults. So! What are we looking at. Usually when documenting larger than average families we like to know things like...are the family on benefits? In which case what will the destiny of their scrounging kids be, how big is their telly and why are they allowed to live? Just asking because we're sincerely concerned, yeah. Or for a more highbrow documentary we investigate the parents and their belief in the rhythm method and Catholicism perhaps or maybe they just didn't get enough love in their own childhoods, or are they holding out for a girl/boy. With the Walton sextuplets, because of the nature of their conception and birth we might be interested in how Ma and Pa Walton coped, but now the girls are 30 and it's 2014 what we really, really want to know is... are they married?
One of my favourite moments in the Jennifer Saunders sitcom Absolutely Fabulous is when they go to France and get drunk at a wine tasting. But there's also a great little scene where Gran mistakes Saffy's purchase of female condoms for fingerless washing up gloves "They don't put fingers on these gloves..." I think when that episode aired many viewers thought that by 2014 we wouldn't be so shocked or flummoxed by femidoms (or femdoms, which I originally typoed) and other forms of female contraception. If pressed I think we'd have guessed the male pill would be causing a new sexual revolution in which responsibility was a buzzword. Instead we're flinging around pseudo science about women, hormones and the pill.
People often appear to be under the impression that feminism is but a question of who opens the door. And who gets to grow a moustache. But mostly door opening and holding. Nobody questions the odd omission of any BAN ALL DOORS or CAMPAIGN FOR REVOLVING DOORS IN ALL BUILDINGS from any feminist projects or slogans. Which is perhaps indicative of how much thought people who think feminism is about misandry have given to the subject. The death of chivalry is regularly mourned and/or celebrated by male and female columnists depending on what publication they are writing for. Why the decline in chivalry? Apparently it's never a question of people being increasingly selfish or thoughtless and therefore bad mannered. It's feminism.