Corinne Linnecar is a returned International Citizen Service (ICS) volunteer with Restless Development. She currently lives in Japan where she teaches English and is involved with a human rights organisation that works to build awareness of human rights issues across the Asia and Pacific region; Hurights Osaka. Here she shares her ideas about modern day feminism within the developed world.
The problem with feminism is the modern day misunderstanding of what a feminist is, the lack of feminists identifying as being such and the semantics of the word conjuring up visions of burning bras, hairy legs and raging women running the streets demanding to be heard.
There seems to be a somewhat common whisper that feminism is done and that the aim has been reached. However, we only need to take one look at the sincere lack of female MPs, the huge gaps in pay and the all too common phrases “what did she expect when she dresses like that?” to understand that the final goal is not our current society and that feminism is still genuinely necessary.
It’s 2016 and an alarming amount of intelligent, worldly women are refusing to be recognized as feminists. The funny thing about this is, they are; they want equality for the sexes, total inclusion within society, no stigma for being sexually active or inactive, no stereotypes for being emotional or strong. So why are people, men included, refraining from identifying with a movement that captures their ideals?
The issue may lie in our perception of the word feminist. There are those that would have you believe that shaving your armpits, wearing makeup, having a purse emptying obsession with shoes, or taking a selfie forbids you from identifying as a feminist. Bullshit.
There are of course those that choose to rebel from our strange social norms of hair removal and beautifying and honestly, good for them. Personally I am sick of people being horrified when I don’t wear makeup to work and whisperings of it meaning I don’t make an effort, I’m tired of the perception that I don’t wear a bra because I’m trying to draw attention to myself and identify as some kind of sexual object. If you don’t like bras, don’t wear them. If you don’t like hair extensions don’t buy them. If heels aren’t for you, then rock your trainers. If you want to ditch the deodorant and hair removal then you go girl, but these acts, choices or statements aren’t what makes a feminist. There is no exclusive feminist club.
For many women the belief that to obtain feminist status means reaching this high set bar and so ditching routines and passions is what encourages them to shy away from the big f word. Feminism should be regarding as wanting total social inclusion and equality regardless of your appearance, gender or sexual identity. I shave my legs, wax my eyebrows, tint my lashes and absolutely love lipstick. I like to wear short dresses and skimpy tops, enjoy the feeling of strutting in heels and get a kick out of being sexy and feminine and I’d challenge anyone to tell me I’m not a feminist.
There was a time when burning bras was necessary, statements needed to be made and voices needed to be heard, but in the UK that day has gone. Thanks to strong, brave, incredible women we now have laws that grant us rights. What we are lacking is the social normality of those rights being upheld and the demonising of anyone who says otherwise. We need a society which is completely inclusive of everyone.
In a way feminism has never been so important for the everyday likes of me and you. The laws have been made and those in power have done all that they will probably do. Rape law exists and yet so does rape culture, equal pay legislation exists and yet so does unequal pay. The rest of the change, the future of feminism and that home straight comes from us and the changes we make.
We need to rebrand feminism and the way people think of it. We need to sprint this home straight and live in a society where total equality and social inclusion is simply a norm and until then we need more men and women standing up and saying “Yes, I am a feminist”, lipstick, heels and all.