If you’ve picked up a newspaper or tuned into the news over the past few weeks, you may have noticed that 2012 still isn’t a brilliant time to be a female.
I’m a feminist. There, I said it. I, like a lot of people, feel uncomfortable with the F word. It’s often said with a tut, a blush, maybe even a snide remark to the stereotypical bra-burning, or perhaps you start your sentences start with “I’m not a feminist but…”
Fourteen-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai has been shot by Taliban extremists for writing a blog about how important education is for young women in Pakistan. Comedian Justin Lee Collins has been convicted of subjecting his former partner to months of domestic abuse and mental torture, yet his sentence amounted to only 140 hours of community service. Perhaps the most obvious; is the investigation into the late broadcaster Jimmy Savile, with more than thirty women coming forward to say he sexually abused them.
An article in The Independent last week detailed that The Everyday Sexism Projectreceived an email from a concerned email from a first year physics student at the Imperial College in London. She forwarded a mail out that had been sent to all members of the physics society claiming that; “Fresher’s lunch will be mainly a chance for you to scope out who is in your department and stake your claim early on the 1 in 5 girls.”
So female students, potentially miles from home and familiar faces and surroundings are being marked as sexual prey by their male piers before their course had even commenced.
Another concern was raised when a male fresher’s week volunteer emailed the Everyday Sexism Project to report the “horrific normalisation” of sexist attitudes and sexual pressure during fresher’s week. His emailed described acts by a group of first year male students named “slut shaming” and “slut-dropping.” The group of male student would drive around in the early hours of the morning looking for girls who were alone and looked inn a post-nightclub state. The female would then be offered a lift home, upon entering the car the male students would ask her address, then drive as far and as fast in the opposite direction as they could. The girl would then be forced from the car, left at the side of the road alone, often miles from home.
The Everyday Sexism Project also shared several fresher’s week events that were underlined in sexist themes. The University of York had a “Slag and Drag” themed night, while Derby University held a “CEOs and Corporate Whores” event.
I don’t doubt that the persons involved in planning the fresher’s events had fun in mind and no malice was intended, but I think its toleration of sexism at this level, the shaping of the business leaders of tomorrow that will shape the way women are treated in the future.
Feminists, like any other collection of people have stereotypes or radicals, but guess what; some feminists wear bras, some shave their pits and some may even do housework, some feminists are men, some feminists are old, some are young, some white, some black and some are even Jean-Luc Picard, captain of the Starfleet Enterprise. In the main, feminists are people with a bit of sodding common sense, who recognise that females deserve to be treated as equals, not as sexual objects.
So I’m finally admitting it, I’m a feminist and you should be too. World Blog Action Dayhas set a theme titled The Power of We, so with reference to this I’d like to ask everyone to combat sexism. I don’t expect any grand gestures or messages written on the moon, but little steps like pointing out inequality in your place of work or study.
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