Tonight, I sat down to watch ‘She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry’, as recommended by one of my all time favourite bloggers, Leanne Woodfull. The documentary is an account of the women’s movement of the 1960s/70s, which laid the groundwork for what we now know as feminism. I was moved deeply by the words and anecdotes of these women, whom only 40 years previously, were subject to such discrimination in the home, workplace, congress. Women were expected to obey their men, take care of the home, bear child after child, with no consideration being given to what they wanted. One aspect that I found most disturbing was that rape was seen as a “crime of passion”, brought on when a man could no longer contain his sexual urges for a woman who was scantily dressed and in their eyes, “asking for it”. Absolute madness.
While watching the documentary, I began to think about how much society has changed in less than 50 years, but also how much it hasn’t. Yes, women now have the right to purchase contraception and receive equal pay to men, but that’s not to say, by any means, that the sexes are now at utter equilibrium. Far from it in fact. There are still many examples of gender imbalance in 2016 modern Ireland, the political ratio for one. At present, only 16% of the Dail is made up of female representatives. That means, it’ll take a further 250 years to obtain a 50:50 ratio, based on trends of previous years. Personally, I find it crazy that such a contrast still exists, which goes to show ‘gender equality’ really isn’t as enforced as we’re lead to believe.
As you’re reading this post, I want you to ask yourself this question – “do you believe in gender equality, personally?” Being honest, I think when a lot of us hear the words “gender equality” we instantly think of rights in the workplace, in politics, the ‘big’ things. But what some people don’t realise is, they’re engaging in gender inequality in so many hidden forms and are blissfully ignorant to it. Not only that, but so much of this isn’t inflicted on women by men, but more a women’s presumption that she still has to act in such a fashion. Don’t believe me? On a number of occasions, I’ve heard women remark that they would be very reluctant to approach a man, be it in a nightclub or even starting a conversation on Tinder. They feel it’s the man’s job to make the first move and to be honest, that really annoys me. The leaders of the women’s movements fought for equality only for it to be wasted on such petty things like that.
In this day and age, there’s absolutely no reason why a woman can’t approach a man or initiate a conversation. Far too often, feminism is mistaken for women seeing themselves as superior to men. We fought for the right to equal pay, equal job opportunities, so why should that entitle us to having doors held open or drinks bought for us by men. Now don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely nothing wrong with chivalry and good manners, what’s wrong is expecting it purely because you’re a woman, because that goes against all the years of work put in by our previous women, and that is not okay.
Because of how opinionated a person I am (I’d start a debate with the wall), a question I’ve been asked on a number of occasions is “so, are you a feminist?” and my answer is always the very same – “yes, but I love men”. Far too often, modern feminism is misinterpreted as a man-hating cult, whose favourite hobbies include burning their bras, growing their leg hair and cursing the entire male proportion of society. I’m proud to call myself a feminist, but also proud to say I’d stand up for any male who was being dominated by a female who saw herself as superior to him. I guess you could say I’m an equalist.