Why is it that so many people – men and women – would agree that we want social, political and economic equality, yet so few would call themselves feminists?
By Joy Kent, Chwarae Teg Chief Executive. Follow on Twitter: @joy_chwaraeteg.
Joining Chwarae Teg and some recent reading ( highly recommend Caitlin Moran’s “How to be a woman” ) has led me to ponder this question.
I apologise now to those who have been thinking about it for much longer, but recent conversations and experiences suggest:
Some feel that being a feminist is inconsistent.
Women are presented as amazing, maybe even better than men, whilst at the same time victims of a system which sets them up to fail.
I think men and women make mistakes all the time; sometimes it’s because we’re human, not because of the system or gender, and although the gender pay gap persists and shockingly only 10% of the world’s wealth is owned by women, many women in the UK rightly or wrongly feel their destiny is largely in their hands.
If the movement is to be more attractive to a wider range of women, they need to feel it reflects their experiences.
Some perceive being a feminist means blaming their male counterparts for every structural, societal barrier that exists.
I think we’re all products of our society and blame isn’t a helpful way forward generally.
It really isn’t my male friends or family who prevented women getting the vote or decided that women in many parts of the world can’t go out on their own. Surely, we need to be more inclusive.
There are and have been great men who are on our side.
Sometimes it feels that to be a feminist you have to look and behave in a certain way and if you don’t, you’re not welcome in the club.
I don’t think spending your time judging other women who don’t have the same likes or dislikes as you has anything to do with being a feminist and it undermines the concept of sisterhood.
I’ve called myself a feminist for as long as I can remember and in my view Chwarae Teg is a feminist organisation.
The women and men who work here are all feminists and I think today in Wales there are very few people who think that women shouldn’t have the same economic, social and political rights and freedoms as men.
Huge progress has been made thanks to the feminist movement although any analysis of women in the economy or public life shows how much still needs to be done.
For us to build on that progress and get social, economic and political equality with men, maybe we need to be more welcoming and less judgemental to others who are on the same side but don’t currently feel it?