Scorpio Risen

It seems sometimes the world’s a lonely, lonely place for a young BTown Feminist…

Posted on: 7 January, 2007

Why would anyone not want to conform, huh? I swear, I look around my sixth form common room (by the way, my sixth form is one of the largest in the country, with 600 students), and I see a lot of conformity, the most obvious being slavish devotion to fashion. And I’ve honed a very keen sense which enables me to spot out conformity/superficiality/fakeness from the very intonation of someone’s voice and their mannerisms. So, to be honest, I feel like I’m in the bloody minority. But that’s ok with me, actually, for the most part.
Most people my age do not seem to show an active interest in Feminism, they do not seem to care. Some seem to belittle or ridicule it. It’s seen as out-dated and extreme; who wants to be either, eh?

I have a couple of theories why this is the case, and I have made tentative steps in asking people why they’re not interested in Feminism. One girl said: “I think we have enough rights. We don’t need anymore.” If you ask me, she seems to have completely missed the point of it. She even went on to say something about men always having been the main providers.
I think a lot of people believe there is equality, or maybe they’re just happen to settle with what they’re got. Maybe they believe all the stupid stereotypes about feminism, and therefore don’t want to be painted with that brush, or don’t view themselves as feminists. Maybe they’d just rather devote their time to fashion, friends, boys, and parties. If that makes them happy, fine.

Or is it?

There are times when I really, really wish that more people my age did care about feminism. Luckily, my best friend F seems to agree with me on some of the subjects we’ve touched base on. But, that’s one person, and she doesn’t even go to my sixth form. I do love to talk about things I feel passionately about, I do love to have intelligent conversations. And if there’s hardly anyone pro-feminist around, what the hell am I supposed to do?

Here’s a few examples from some attempts I’ve made, albeit relatively paraphrased but remembered to the best of my ability.

On the bus one day on the way to school. I was talking with a group of people in my year about the Ipswich murders. I cannot quite remember exactly what I was talking about, but I think I may have been saying that prostitutes don’t choose prostitution; many are forced by desperate circumstances into prostitution. This girl just casually brushed all that I’d said aside and said: “Yeah, well, they’re not all nice. I mean, go down Tavistock Street [pretty much Btown’s redlight district], they’re all dirty skanks really.”
It’s not that I mind people disagreeing with me, actually I quite like it (odd as that may sound, but diversity is great in debates). It’s just that the level of conversation had gone from fairly intelligent – using polysyllabics for crying out loud! – to a toss-away comment, which clearly had no thought put to it, and was pretty irrelevant to the point I was making. I mean, let’s do a brief analysis of the language she used. Well, it was pretty much monosyllabic/basic language, and the choice of lexis (“dirty skanks”) suggests negative judgement, and no thought or questioning as to why womyn are in that situation. “They’re not all nice”…Excuse me, but I don’t care if someone’s manipulative, selfish, generous, honest or whatever personality traits they have, nobody deserves to be prostituted and it’s damn wrong to use and abuse womyn as if they’re for some john’s own personal use, or toy to play with.

In English, we’ve been studying the Language & Gender module. In one lesson, I made a point paraphrasing from Female Chauvinist Pigs – the idea of one of the most successful executives in publishing (Judith Regan) bragging that she has “the biggest cock in the building” is harmful to womym, and herself, since having the “biggest cock in the building” suggests something superior about men, or that male qualities are more conducive to success and therefore women’s achievements are more inferior because they are not the achievements of a man, and by extenstion, all that Regan and her female peers achieve will never be as good as that of a man’s, because by their (her) own definition, to be truly successful you have to have “the biggest cock”.
Then, a guy responded to my comment by saying that “that sounds like feminism.” His tone was negative, and suggested he felt there was something quite distasteful about it all. I assumed he meant the point of what I’d said was feminist, then I realised he meant what Judith Regan had said sounded feminist. Which is ironic, because to me it is anything but feminist. In another English lesson, a point was made by my (female) English teacher, about the possible sexist meanings to a certain word or use of word, to which the same guy responded by saying “That’s just feminist talk”, using the same derogatory tone.

Now, it’s not that I believe that everyone SHOULD be a feminist just because I am, but I’m not particularly keen on hearing feminism expressed in such derogatory tones by someone who appears to be pretty ignorant on the whole subject. So, basically, I snapped.

“Why is it that you always refer to feminism in a negative tone, like it’s something bad?!” Amy began.
The guy replied in a quiet, mumbly tone: “I just don’t appreciate extreme feminism.”
“Well that’s fair enough, but that wasn’t extreme feminism. There’s so many different kinds of feminism [here I gave a few examples which I could think of, although I’m sure there are many I haven’t heard of, and I know I’m not the most qualified on the subject]. You’re just thinking of stupid stereotypes which were designed to undermine and hurt feminism and you clearly know very little about it at all!!!”

In fact, yesterday, another guy claimed the world was run by women (as if), and to back up this claim he said: “Men have sex when they can, women have sex when they want.” (Which, if you ask me, is a total disregard for all the rape victims!)

Also, I swear honest to God, I feel pretty isolated being a Feminist in Btown. I’ve joined a couple of London-based Feminist Yahoo groups, but, it’s next to impossible to go along to any meetings, due to train prices/times/location of meetings (have no sense of direction)/ lack of fellow feminist sympathisers to commute with me. I would honestly love to join some kind of Feminist group closer to home…

But, there are many positives: thank Goddess for blogging, eh folks?!

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2 Responses to "It seems sometimes the world’s a lonely, lonely place for a young BTown Feminist…"

amy you’re isolated WHEREVER you are if you declare ANY interest in women’s issues. we ALL go through what you’re going through at the moment. we are ridiculed more than the system which oppresses women. we are ridiculed and shouted down for daring to shout our oppressors down. many people are ignorant to what feminism is and many don’t, won’t, can’t see things through our eyes. i have learnt to shut up really with most folk around me and use blogs like yours to vent, learn and join other like-minded females in the quest for and hope that one day we may have true liberation.

I’m appreciative of the internet as a way of communicating with other feminists.
I guess I just like a bit of face-time y’know.
There are times when I’m particularly sensitive to isolation, and times when I have more of a well-if-you-won’t-give-me-the-time-of-day-you-can-fuck-off kind of philosophy.
Meh.

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