Tuesday, 24 March 2015

My View on Why Feminism Is Relevant in 2015

Just to clarify, I wrote this post on my other blog which is now obsolete but I wanted to put this on my personal blog because feminism/humanism is something close to my heart that I truly believe needs a lot of change and now I'm old enough to understand what sexism is and how it operates in pervasive ways we might not even realise, it's something I argue quite a bit about to defend its relevance in today's society. Yes the issues I list here are mostly #firstworldproblems but I think everyone's problems are relative to their situation, and these are some I can think of. I'll post more on the subject of feminism as time goes by. Anyway here it is...

I'm a feminist, and a humanist, but I struggled with classing myself as the "F" word for a couple of years because of the negative connotations associated with it. If you're a feminist, you're a bra-burning, men-hating lesbian, right?

Not right. If you're not a feminist, you're probably brain dead. Feminism means wanting equality between men and women. Why wouldn't anyone want that? For the people who say it's outdated, it's definitely not. The UK has the sixth largest male/female pay gap in the EU. Women get paid less to do the same job as men. Not to mention the fact women are discouraged from being promoted to higher positions within the work place. There  is a massive difference between how male and female employees are perceived and expected to behave within the workplace. There was a study conducted by Fortune about the issue. "This kind of negative personality criticism—watch your tone! step back! stop being so judgmental!—shows up twice in the 83 critical reviews received by men. It shows up in 71 of the 94 critical reviews received by women."

Here are the graphs about personal reviews at work given to men and women:


Look at those differences! I know it's just one study but it really brings to light the underlying issues that society is still massively old-fashioned and we still have troubles erasing from our minds the idea of the domestic wife who lives and breathes to serve her husband who is the strong breadwinner. Women, for some people, should still be at home while the workplaces should still be full of men. Or if women are at work they should keep their heads down and mouths closed and never "emasculate" a man by daring to speak up about problems.

This isn't even beginning to touch on the "glass ceiling" that stops women from being able to get to such high positions in work in the first place. For example a woman who is young enough to have children can be rejected from a job in place of a man so that the boss doesn't have to pay maternity leave to the woman. Or it is common for women to be discriminated against because bosses fear she'll put her family first. Of course it's 2015 and women can choose not to have children, not to get married and put her career before anything and that's fine but not many people will assume that's the case without it being explicitly said. But why should women have to? Men don't. 

Maternity leave is an issue other countries have gotten right but UK is still lagging far behind. The fact only the mother can take off a year is just wrong. What if the mother doesn't want to be the parent to take a year off? It should be a year off that the parents can divide in any way they want. And house husbands should become just as commonplace as house wives and get no discrimination for looking after their children - because for every house husband that looks after the house, there is a progressive woman being able to work. Some people's dreams are to get to the top of their career ladder and some people's dreams are to have the best family they can - for some people it's both. And that's fine. But it shouldn't be determined by gender which one yours should be. This is just the same as when parents divorce. The parents should be grown up and decide fairly who would be the best care giver. Under no circumstances should the children be blindly given to the mother because she holds the uterus that grew them. I know first hand that that kind of haphazard choice making doesn't always work for the best.  

Men don't even have to disclose on any form ever whether they're single or married, women do with miss, mrs, ms. And obviously like 90% of people who put "ms" are single anyway so that one's a dud until they get rid of the other two. It's like women should be proud to be married but men can hide it if they want. I ended up debating with my boyfriend the other day about the fact I'm not changing my name if I ever get married. Men don't even have to think about that, it's a given. He couldn't understand why I wouldn't want to change my name. So I gave an alternative, I asked, "Why don't you take my name?" He said, "Because I don't want to. I like my name." It took a couple of seconds before he realised that it's kind of exactly the same reason I don't want to change my name either. I like my name. It's mine. I've had it for twenty one years and it's uncommon and it's on all of my documents and I like being a part of the Cambrook family. I don't see any reason why I should have to even say I don't want to change it, why it should be a given that I take my male partner's surname. I've got no ties to that name, no memories, no birth certificate, no parents with that name, no siblings with that name. I love my boyfriend's family but just as much as I'm a part of his family, he's a part of mine too. 

Those are just a sample of some first world feminist problems to skim the surface of the problems still plaguing our patriarchal society. For people (and you Connor!) complaining about men not getting to see their kids, yes, that is a problem. But feminism encompasses that. Women want to be equal - that means upgrading in some respects such as employment and marriage, and downgrading in others like maternity leave and care of a child. That's just fair. And the extremist feminists who spew man-hate all over the internet aren't really feminists. They don't want equality, they want all out man extermination. There's a lot of problems to be solved in all areas of humanity but by denying that there are any problems is just white male privilege at its finest.