Saturday, 3 November 2012

Not All Feminists Have Hairy Armpits

Although this post won’t focus solely on the aesthetics of feminists, it was feminist imagery that inspired it. In the UK there is currently an ongoing campaign which asks Dominic Monaghan to remove page 3 models from The Sun newspaper. For those who are not aware, page 3 models are attractive women who pose semi-naked on page 3 (obviously) of the sun newspaper. The idea behind the campaign is to prevent the normalisation of women as objects, thus preventing sexual assault and rape prevalence.

The campaign has attracted somewhat mixed reviews, with groups of both men and women supporting and condemning it. Today, I logged onto my Facebook to see a post from a female friend blasting the campaign, suggesting we hold a breast fondling day to counteract it. Part of her post included ‘feminists with hairy armpits need to shut up’. It makes no difference to me whether women--be they feminist or not--have hairy armpits. What irked me was this idea that all of us feminists are bitter, grotesque whinge-bags who are jealous of others who want to get their breasts out.

It isn’t solely the aesthetic presumptions that annoy me here. What annoys me is that feminist is a dirty word, and that we are all seen as women who are verbose with no good reason. That is not true. First of all, some of the world’s most beautiful women are feminists. Natalie Portman, Angelina Jolie, Oprah Winfrey...I needn’t go on. That aside, do our looks matter? We do actually have a purpose, and our roles across feminist networks don’t revolve around winding up misogynists for the sake of it.

I consider myself to be a feminist, and I am sure the bloggers of Delta Women do too--both male and female. I place a lot of focus on reproductive and sexual health; I want women to be able to take charge of their birth, not suffer from maternal mortality, empower themselves with contraceptives, and have the right to say who has sex with them, how, and when. From the rape victims of the DRC, to the women too scared to carry condoms in their purse here in the UK for fear of being labeled a ‘slut’, I want to ensure they are able to take charge of their bodies and their health. In addition to this, I want women to be entitled to the same sexual and reproductive rights as men. That means reducing the prevalence of FGM, and ensuring that childbirth and pregnancy are taken seriously in the medical field. On the somewhat more contentious side of things, I want abortion to be legalised; I want women to have the right to choose, no matter where they are in the world.

I have worked in places where the value of a woman’s life is second to that of her male counterparts, and what people don’t realise is that women’s equality means a better way of life for all. Women are caregivers, workers, and they can influence people politically. If a woman is healthy, her children will be well cared for and her family will be supported emotionally and financially.

What I am trying to get at here is that as a feminist, I am not someone who wants to make life boring, or annoy people by ruining their fun. Unfortunately, this is the image that is predicted by those who either do not understand what feminism is about and those who would rather we do not have equal rights.

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