Feminism - are you doing it the 'right' way?
We all fight over what the label 'feminism' means but for me it's about empowerment. It's not about being more powerful than men — it's about having equal rights with protection, support, justice. It's about very basic things. It's not a badge like a fashion item.
Emma Watson, the 24 year old actress, best known as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter movies was appointed a UN Goodwill Ambassador earlier this year and earlier this month delivered a speech at the UN. Headquarters in New York, to launch the UN Women campaign HeForShe. This campaign calls for men to advocate for gender equality. She spoke of her childhood, of being sexualised by the press as a young actress. The HeForShe campaign is not new concept. In Australia we have the Male Champions of Change program.
During the speech Ms Watson said that feminism had to stop being perceived as 'man-hating' to be successful, and that men were also victims of gender stereotyping. Cue the criticism of the twitterati.
Ms Watson's speech received a standing ovation at the UN. But it seems in not conforming to the very stereotype she is trying to battle, by 'inviting' men to be part of the conversation, she is not doing feminism in the right way. In a piece published in main stream media, and mentioned too many times to count, Clementine Ford wrote that the speech was 'hardly a game changer'. The title given to the piece on-line referred to her speech as 'rubbish' and Ms Ford belittled Ms Watson's views as rubbish in the article. To be honest, I'm not sure the speech was intended to be a game changer — it was one young feminist giving her views on feminism and the HeForShe campaign. Here is one quote from Ms Ford:
-I'm sorry to the Grinch who stole Popular Feminism, but this is utter rubbish. Gender inequality comes as a direct result of the enforcement of patriarchal structures. Although men are impacted negatively by it, they are not impacted in the same ways or to the same drastically violent extent as women.
This is of course all true. However, it does the cause of feminism no good to have writers like Ford demolishing anyone who dares to suggest another, perhaps softer, view, as if there is some special club one has to be in to claim to be a 'proper' feminist. As I have said before we can all call ourselves feminists if we believe equal work deserves equal pay; that workplaces need to be free from sexual harassment, that promotion should be on merit, that women have the right to choose what happens with and to their bodies. Everything else is a bonus — and all feminist views should be supported and respected and not disparaged.