The other day it occured to me that I might be raising feminists. This isn’t something that I have set out to do deliberately and I wouldn’t have labeled myself a feminist (as I’m not a big lover of labels) but I have come to realise that I do have feminist views. When I was a child growing up in the outer reaches of Essex we didn’t really have the feminist movement. The 60s had seen the first modern wave of it which was when my Mum was a young woman starting out in the workplace. It hadn’t really made a difference to my Mum and her life. For example my Mum was very accademic and she really wanted to go to university to train to be a teacher. However, my Grandad wouldn’t allow it and so she did what was expected of her which was to go to secretarial school and then get married. The arrival of our first female Prime Minister in the 80s saw the second wave of feminism. Women believed that they could have equality and we saw this represented in the fashion world by power suits with big shoulder pads, the motto being the bigger the better. But as with the first wave the feminist movement died down again until the 1990s when in pop music we had the Spice Girls and ‘Girl Power’. For me this was when I started to become aware of the feminist movement. Later when I went to university (something that had my Mum had been denied all those years earlier), I became even more aware of women’s rights and to a certain degree felt indebted to the feminist movement.
I was able to go to University because women before me had fought for this right
Today we have easy access to technology. Information at our fingertips, 24 hours a day. This means that when an event occurs on the other side of the world we know about it almost instantly, like it’s happening in the next room. As a result of the internet we are more aware than ever of the injustice that is going on in the world and more aware than ever of the inequality in the world. We read about the uproar surrounding the Oscars from our armchairs whilst having breakfast and we stumble upon feminist views whilst eating our lunch. Feminism is stronger than ever and its growth is firmly rooted in the internet. You can read about it on blogs, facebook, tweets etc.
In just a few clicks we can all enlighten ourselves.
This is a good thing, right? Well, yes in that it now means that any sniff of sexism from a celebrity or politician will be splashed all over the internet. An “ordinary” person deemed sexist could find themselves with the hashtag everyday sexism. Therefore are we saying that feminism will no longer happen in waves, that this time it is here to stay for good? In a word, no. This new very visible feminism is now provoking something of a nasty backlash. I’m talking trolls and not the cute sort from the 80s. I’m talking the faceless sort that that hide behind their computer screens.
In this very modern age in what is supposed to be a very civilised society, women are being attacked online for their feminist views. On a daily basis you can find mysognistic tweets and as a result of this vitriol many women are quite understandably retreating from vocalising their views in public.
It saddens me that in 2016 a woman still can’t freely express her beliefs without the risk of violent threats. I find it sad that again having a feminist opinion is something we don’t want to admit too. Something that we feel the need to hide or whisper about from behind closed curtains.
This new era of publicialy humilating online has seen many outspoken feminists retreating from the public sphere. Lena Durham being one of them. Previously a very vocal feminist Lena chose to retreat from Twitter after getting fed-up of the constant sniping and attacking of her views. Many blogs that once had feminist articles for all to read are stopping and replacing them with newsletters instead. The idea being that you can still read about feminist news and opinions but from the safety of your own inbox, away from other judging eyes. But isn’t this against the whole spirit of the movement? Are we not supposed to be expressing our femininist views in an open arena because we can; because we live in a free society, because we are equals? By taking the option of debate away are we not moving the feminist movement back? Is the newsletter not the equivelent of feminists going back home behind closed doors?
Surely for future generations we need to open that door and go back outside. We need to let everyone hear our voices. If we are to make progress we need to keep moving forward and we can’t do this if we are hiding in our safe spaces. We owe it to our children; we owe it to the women before us, we need to stand up for what we believe in.
“Here’s to strong women. May we know them. May we be them. May we raise them” Anon.