I like to think of myself as a progressive person.
I’ve actively spoken out against racism when it’s been blatantly demonstrated in front of me. I’ve never understood why people have an issue with gay people marrying or having children and I’ve been incredibly angry when I’ve heard of prejudice against my gay friends.
And I’ve obviously always believed in equality for women in my heart, even if I haven’t always known how to express it.
However, since I started writing this blog I’ve thought a lot more about a whole host of issues, and the more I think about them, the more I realise how, to some, I could be seen as part of the problem.
This starkly came to my attention when looking at the Instagram feed of Feminist Fight Club (@Feminist Fight Club). They had posted an image of Susan B. Anthony and described how she was a pioneer for feminism.
Now I’d never heard of Susan B. Anthony, and I still know very little about her, but under this post there were a whole load of comments saying that Anthony may have been a feminist but she was also a racist and that (given that it was Black History Month at the time) this was an example of the problem with ‘white feminism’ and that the feed should be promoting notable black feminists instead.
Now I don’t disagree with the comments. Fair point you might say. Indeed, Feminist Fight Club then amended the caption to make reference to Susan B. Anthony’s less desirable qualities. But the bit that took me aback was the level of anger expressed at the problem of ‘white feminism’ when I hadn’t even the slightest inkling up until then that this was even a thing!
Now, as you may have guessed, I am white. However, as it happens, I don’t in any way see my particular brand of feminism as excluding anyone of any race or gender. Man, woman, transgender, black, white, gay, straight – you name it and I welcome you to the cause! But the point that was raised in those comments did make me think about this issue and I realised something.
I don’t ever really spend any time at all thinking about the privilege that I have purely as a result of my skin colour. I’m objectively aware that if you are not white, you are more likely to be disadvantaged at every stage of your life. And I’m very aware that in my particularly cloistered little world, there is a shameful lack of diversity and I think that is fundamentally wrong.
But I don’t spend much time, if any, thinking about what I take for granted simply because I am white. I just go about my daily life as I always have done. Like many people do. And then it dawned on me – this is the problem with men!
Maybe not all men – maybe some are more enlightened than me and credit to them. But I bet you that while many men do believe that equality for women should be a thing (and let’s ignore the ones that don’t for now) and in theory they support it wholeheartedly – they may just not get what our point is half the time because they don’t see or think about how, in many ways, their lives are easier simply by virtue of being male. They’re just not walking around thinking, “Gosh, isn’t my life so much easier because the guys at the car repair shop will start from the assumption that I am not completely stupid.”
And so here’s my point – can feminism be a problem? Yes, if those leading the charge are not actively thinking about making sure that we are taking everyone along with us for the ride. It’s not much of a fight for equality if we are sidelining whole groups of people in the process. But is it also the answer? Well, if you take me as an example, then yes – absolutely. If it wasn’t for feminism, I wouldn’t even be aware of some of these issues – they may never have crossed my mind – and, as I keep bloody saying, in order to fix a problem you must first bring it into the light.
So the more we talk about the inequality we face, the everyday sexism, the injustice and the abuse, maybe the more men will start to wake up and realise just how skewed things are in their favour. And that would be half the problem solved in my view!
Keep on fightin’, one and all. X