I want to write about something I never have before; Feminism. I don’t want to get into a debate about what a feminist is or isn’t but over the last few weeks, I have seen a few things that have made me a bit angry. I will start with the one that actually happened to me. Before I start it really isn’t that bad in the grand scheme of things but it just bugged me. I was in a local pub with my fiancé and got up to walk to the bathroom. We were having a really nice night but I just discovered that I’d lost an earring. Not the biggest issue going on in the world but in that second I was a bit annoyed. On my way, a group of ‘lads’ I will call them, start giggling and one yells ‘smile’ at me. I was so taken aback and confused that I don’t know what facial expression I ended up giving him; probably one of complete bemusement. When I got back to my seat I was so annoyed. I felt quite intimidated walking back past them to be honest and felt 14 again. You know whatever they’re saying about you probably isn’t nice. Why should I smile for him? I think most people would agree that when you see someone smiling at themselves it can be a bit unnerving, as sad as that is. I posted this incident on Facebook and was flooded with responses from loads of my female friends saying this has happened to them. No men had had it happen though and it always seemed to be men that were the ones commanding the smile. Is this because there’s some deep rooted idea that women should always look attractive for men’s enjoyment? That guy did not know me; know what I was thinking or what was going on in my life so why did he feel the need to tell me to smile? I instantly became self-conscious that I constantly look miserable. I now vaguely remember that when I was back at university in Swansea I was occasionally told by strangers (men, I will add): ‘Cheer up love, it might not happen.’ How do they know it hasn’t already? A male teacher of mine pointed out that there was no right way for me to respond. If I’d smiled I would have been patronised and if I had responded I would probably have received a more unpleasant comment.
In a similar vein, I read an article last week where two colleagues, a man and a woman swapped their names over when they signed off on emails. Those replying to Nicole were patronising and uncooperative. She had been told she was working too slowly by her boss but it turns out that those she had to deal with would tell her she didn’t understand or take their time in responding. However, when she worked in exactly the same way but signed off as her male colleague, the complete opposite happened. This really appalled me that this blatant sexism for no reason other than a name still exists. I work in an office where a number of people rely on hearing back from clients on a daily basis. Luckily I don’t deal with clients but my work is indirectly related to them and it’s concerning if this is happening.
I couldn’t write this post without referring to one more recent feminist topic. Emma Watson has been subjected to criticism for her decision to pose semi-topless for Vanity Fair. Firstly, most people would agree that she is a fabulous icon for women in general. She does so much good work as a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador as well as balancing her successful career and education. All this while still being a decent person from what I can gather. Now some ‘so called’ feminists are complaining because she has posed in the magazine. Firstly, she is not naked or in Playboy. It’s quite a tasteful photoshoot. But either way, from what I can understand in my limited knowledge is that feminism is about telling women they can do anything, not that they can’t. I would not choose to pose naked in a magazine but if someone chose to I wouldn’t brand them unfeminist. I believe feminism is, as Watson herself pointed out, about giving women a choice. Either way though, I think there are much more dangerous and damaging issues affecting women all over the world compared to this. Just some food for thought.
Image credit to pixabay