Throughout history, women have made their mark, often under extremely oppressive conditions. Yes! I said OPPRESSION – and whilst society may actively dislike the words of old, used to explain and underpin the need for women’s suffrage, this is where we are travelling from…we are still travelling, let’s make no bones about it.
From 1872’s dawn of women’s suffrage as a political movement, we have had to fight and scrape to get what are now deemed to be basic human rights and equality. So why are the most modern forms of communication littered with the most archaic, sexist and old-fashioned phrases and idioms, still in use by young men and, unfortunately, women?
There appears to have been a serious misinterpretation and understanding of the feminist message, which was hijacked by men in the 70s, showing feminists as ball-busting lesbians, decked out in dungarees with cropped hair. A narrow view, displaying the most extreme, (usually) academic, (often) lesbian feminism as the ‘norm. Of course, this alone is ridiculous and feminism encompasses a wide range of ideological interpretations. However, the mud has stuck and we women are equally stuck with a nonrepresentational overview of this ‘one size fits all’ male perspective.
The problem with this is that it hurts both sexes equally – women and men can work harmoniously and acknowledge the differences positively. There are differences between men and women, of course, and these are important and useful when not used as weapons to harass, hinder and devalue one another.
Reading through Twitter recently, I was desperately saddened by some of the terminology and attacks on women in particular. Hearing that Mary Beard had been abused on the internet ad threatened with personal, physical harm made me realise how low we humans are sinking on a local and global scale. Such threats are becoming the norm and not the exception and once again, as in days of old, womens’ sexuality is being used as a weapon to belittle and shame. It’s a disgraceful path we are following and I can only wonder how we can educate out children to move toward a more positive, mutual and respectful place in the coming years.
Miley Cyrus may have been viewed as an embarrassment at a recent awards ceremony, however, she is still at the safe end of what is becoming a lewd and repugnant social norm for these young people. Unlike past identity branding such as punk with its varied and wide ranging political stances (not all positive, admittedly); hippies with their clear message of freedom, peace and love; new romantics who just wanted everyone to look pretty (yeah, not a lot to go on there I admit) and so on, this identity is purely about being foul mouthed and shocking, a nihilistic vacuousness which amounts to nothing in particular. Miley and her ilk have nothing to say! They simply want to be heard and ‘Rebel Without a Clue’ has never been more apt a title. Within this though is a darker, nasty depth where, amongst the murk, one remembers the teen suicides, cyber and physical bullying, girls judging one another on their looks and clothing far more than ever before and the rape threats by boys online. It’s all getting a little out of hand, rather spiteful and at times overtly vicious and the fact that ‘rape’ is now an acceptable verb to use with women in social situations is worrying. Normalisation of such an act could be the start of a dangerous era for women.
Finally, I must add that the feminist perspective is not purely about women but is shared across the sexes. Many men consider themselves to be feminists and this is vital to creating an equal society. I am proud of the many men I know, including my Husband, who consider themselves to be feminists and I love & respect them dearly for it. Ahhhh, the ‘r’ word – so many songs about it, yet still, we are here – trudging slowly toward a world of confident, self-assured women who do not define themselves by the male industries that are fashion, film and music! Rock on you feminist champions!