I.D. : Call Me A Feminist
Feminism. There’s a lot of talk about this word at the moment; the Sunday Times this week showcased the portrait of a modern day feminist, and Grazia is frequently featuring the discussion. Some might question, why are we still talking about this stuff? We’re liberated right? I wonder.
A quick look into some global statistics might be shocking to you, indeed I think they should be: 100 million women are missing from the face of the earth today. That’s a figure based on the demographics and forecast population growth, a result of the one child policy and infanticide due to the preference for boy children. 80% of the 27 million people currently estimated to be in slavery are women, and we bear witness to a shocking increase of violence against women, fuelled in part by the documented effects of an increasingly depraved pornography industry, which has been described as modelling ‘making hate to a woman’s body,’ and rape being used as established ‘military strategy’, because if you dishonour the women, you destroy the community.
As undergraduates at university, we were asked what we thought of feminists and feminism, and as ‘liberated young thinkers’, we snickered and made jokes about comfortable shoes and droopy boobs. I had been duped; I agreed with the media image of a feminist, and most teenage girls I ask today almost physically recoil at the word. What an effective strategy! We have been unconsciously persuaded that it is preferable to be the ones making fun of the feminists, than to be labeled one ourselves.
I don’t particularly care about the language or the label, but maybe it’s time to reinstate the word – without the connotations of burning bras, militant actions and a hairy top lip. What are we talking about here anyway? Surely we are simply talking about being ‘for’ women, because we are women or because we are men who love women. Do I want to be paid the same as my male counterpart at work? Yes. Do I want access to the same educational opportunities as my brothers? Yes. Do I want to not be raped? Yes. So, call me a feminist.
Ask yourself honestly – how would you feel going into a room filled with women you didn’t know? Got that image in your mind? Sweaty palms, slight nausea? I thought so. The battle of woman against woman is perhaps one of the saddest currently raging. And with such a deadly onslaught against women globally, we should have each other’s backs rather than tearing each other down. We should actively disengage in objectification of each other; we should resist the judgments of sizing each other up according to the criteria of clothes, hair and boyfriends. Because much like they used to brand slaves in the 18th century to indicate ownership, so when we judge we’re engaging in an act of cruelty and treating each other as though we’re less than human.
What would it mean if we could change that? What would it mean if every time you met a new woman or girl you were legitimately excited to get to know another of your comrades? Just imagine what it would mean for the world if we released each other into being fully the women we are meant to be; rather than thinking by seeing another succeed it somehow diminishes who we are? What would it mean if we were to treat women as though they are beloved of God rather than objects? Does it take anything away from us to stand up for the beauty of another?
The common dialect greek word used in the New Testament for beautiful was ὡραῖος, hōraios,an adjective etymologically coming from the word ὥρα, hōra, meaning ‘hour.’ Beauty was therefore associated with ‘being of one’s hour.’ I love this idea of beauty, suggesting that to be full of who you were meant to be, not trying to be older or younger than you are, just being ‘ripe’ in yourself is to be truly beautiful. And women are beautiful. Perhaps this is where we start – to remind each other of that from time to time.
Women: we have something totally unique to offer the world, to offer our communities; wonderful, totally feminine gifts that are needed and required by simply being all that we can be. By being beautiful (and you know what I mean by that word). Don’t be fooled, women need each other, and the world needs women.
Words by Madeleine Miller
Image by Johanna Lees