Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Feminism is Very Much Alive

A few weeks ago, Piers Morgan, a man whose penis, it would appear, leaves him uniquely qualified to make declarations on behalf of Feminism, Feminists and Women, declared Feminism dead. He did so because a couple of women posted a photo of themselves topless. I spent the few minutes after trying to work out who exactly this Emily Ratajkowski was and left the rest of Twitter to feed Piers' ego by telling him he was wrong, which, of course, he was. Piers decided that he would again use the topless selfie he accuses Kim and Emily of using to make money, to, well, garner clicks on an article that, presumably, the writing of which makes him money. Irony aside, he remains wrong.

He tell us that he does not mind people using their bodies to make money, which is nice of him given he appeared in a Burger King advert that scars me to this day. Rather his issue, apparently, is that the photo is masquerading as an attempt to fight the cause of gender equality. Because, apparently, women doing what they want isn't actually gender equality. No, it transpires that gender equality is women doing what Piers Morgan thinks they should do. Anyway, mansplaining aside, I suppose I can see where Piers is coming from. He probably thinks that it sets a bad example and also that women should feel empowered, not by stripping down, but by other things. Of course, these are things as defined by our resident moral expert Mr Morgan, but that isn't the point. Women should not feel obliged to take their clothes off in order to be successful and Piers thinks that this photo encourages this view. But, of course, it doesn't. I mean, I don't look at Piers Morgan and think I need to be anything like him to piss people off - I do it just fine by being nothing like him. 

He goes on. It gets better. Piers laments the possibility that actually all this will do is promote the view of women as sex objects and encourage men to hold this view. Frankly, Piers, this is where I got annoyed. As if anyone is to blame for objectifying women other than the man doing the objectifying. That is not a problem with a photo, Piers, that's a problem with society and, well, with (some) men. If you look at a photo of a woman, regardless of what she is wearing, and sexualize or objectify her, that's on you. Not the photo. I am sure you do genuinely regret the idea that women are perceived as sex objects and I am sure you wish this to stop. I do not doubt your sincerity on this point, though, believe me, it is not difficult to do so. But if you do, and I am willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, then it's time to stop blaming women for it. Women are no more to blame for their objectification than they are for rape; a topless selfie is no more to blame for sexualization than a mini-skirt is for rape. 

Many women will look at the naked selfies and think, "You know what. No. I do not feel empowered by exposing my boobs on social media." Many mothers will dread the thought of their daughters doing so. And you know what, that is as valid a response as, "You know what. Yes. I feel empowered by exposing my boobs on social media." I am not going to sit here and write what I think is better for Feminism or women. It has nothing to do with my being a man. Rather, it has to do with my very simple notion of what Feminism is:

Supporting the choices of women, regardless of what they are and regardless of whether I would make those choices for me, if I were a woman, or if I would want the women in my life to make those choices for themselves. 

You want to post a naked selfie? Go for it. You do not want to? Don't. You want to be a housewife and raise kids and not work? Be my guest. You want to be a CEO? I hope you make it. You want to wear mini-skirts? Not my place to tell you not to. You want to wear a burka? Please, feel free. I may or may not think that women should post naked selfies. I may think I would never choose to wear a mini-skirt if I were a woman (though, of course, I do not know). But, damn it, Feminism is alive and well for as long as women feel they can make those choices for themselves and Feminism continues to thrive for as long as it fights for an environment where women are free to make those choices without consequences like, I don't know, an angry, self-righteous, arrogant, pompous, male know-it-all telling them what he believes they should and should not do to advance a cause he, at best, clearly does not fully understand.