Why Snobby Feminism Should Stop

September 30, 2011

Words by Sian Mcgee

In August the New Statesman ran an article written by writer and feminist cam- paigner, Julie Blindel, entitled ‘Why “Fun Feminism” should be consigned to the rubbish bin’. Blindel rampages against ‘fun feminists’ and their hindrance of the goals of feminism, generalises about men, heterosexual women and recent popular feminist movements.

As a young feminist I was angered by the article and in general about the snobbery found within and between feminist move- ments. I often hear people say that as women we can be our own worst enemy and, sadly, I think this problem is increasing. I don’t believe that the problem lies with the abundance of different Women’s liberation groups but from the response of one to the other. Feminism is not one homogonous way of thinking and on key issues – such as porn, prostitution and the inclusion of men – groups of feminists differ in opinions. But ultimately our goal is the same; the emancipation of women from patri- archy and to be treated as people, not objects. We shouldn’t be attacking each other but rather the powers that relegate us as second class citizens.

The recent ‘Slutwalk’ marches and Caitlin Moran’s book display new ways of thinking and ways to attract people to the movement. Blindel is outdated. Men aren’t the problem, patriarchy is, and not including men in Femi- nist movements can only be detrimental. “If men like a particular brand of feminism, it means it is not working,” writes Blindel. Apparently only if Julie Blindel likes a partic- ular brand of Feminism is it working.

Blindel says ‘Slutwalks’ promote individual rather than collective emancipation. Sparked by one rogue Canadian policeman who expressed a, sadly, well entrenched view, the Slutwalk movement united women and men all around the world to take to the streets with the firm belief that a dress does not mean a yes. The view that by dressing as ‘sluts’ women are asking to be sex- ually harassed and raped places the blame on the victim rather than the perpetrator of rape, as seen in the recent Strauss-Kahn case. Victims past demeanours can be used as a way to justify the crime, and juries still take into account what the victim was wearing at the time of the attack. The message should always be ‘don’t rape’ not ‘don’t get raped’. Currently it is estimated that only 15% of people who are sexually assaulted go to the police and the con- viction rates for rapists remain shockingly low. The ‘fun feminists’ who took to the streets on Slutwalks forced this issue back into the open. Their protests were neither flimsy nor arbitrary as the labelling ‘fun’ may suggest.

I doubt Ms Blindel was at any one of the marches that took place all over the world but from my experience in London I can inform Ms Blindel that at that moment I felt part of some- thing big, something important, I felt nothing individual that day, only a collective response to sexism and patriarchy. Julie Blindel con- tributes so much to Feminism and all voices should be heard, but our enemy is not fellow women and feminists. This snobbery needs to stop if we are to collectively reach our goals.

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