Good evening, my fellow humans. My name is Jodie and I am a radical feminist.
Radical feminists believe that we live in a patriarchal society that divides the entire human race into two groups and then makes one of those groups dominant over the other. It divides us not for any logical reason, but with the prime objective of treating us differently.
The practical application of radical feminism is to challenge anything that puts women in a subservient role and reinforces our position of weakness. Anything that makes us less valuable, less powerful, less human.
The purpose of feminism, as a whole, is to promote women to the rank of fully human. It should follow then that anyone who does not identify as a feminist, does not believe that women are fully human. And that anyone who does agree that women are fully human is thereby a feminist.
People shun the word feminist for many reasons. They think that feminism is no longer necessary. They claim to be opposed to labels. They say that the word feminism is loaded with ‘negative connotations’.
These are often the same people who label me a man-hater, a sexist, a ‘male genocide advocate’, and who then call me a liar when I tell them I am none of those things. If feminism has negative connotations, it is because those who are against it, those who quite enjoy the current social acceptability treating women as less than human, are working very hard to discredit it.
There are many women out there who cannot stand up for themselves because the threat to their own or their children’s lives is very real. Because they have been trained for their whole lives to believe that they are of little value and that men are in charge, there are consequences if you disagree, and that is just how the world works.
If you are woman who is in a safe place, who can stand up for yourself and for those around you, I implore you to make that stand. Whenever you see women being disrespected, belittled, devalued or sexualised, in person or in the media, say something.
If you are a man who believes that women are fully human, speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves. Call out the attitudes that allow for the objectification and dehumanisation of women.
Teach your children that women are people. Teach them about consent. Teach boys and girls that they always have the right to say ‘no’. That nobody is allowed to touch them without their permission, and that they never have to allow anyone to touch them if they don’t want to. Not even grandma. Teach them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable, and always believe them if they tell you someone has done something inappropriate to them.
Open up the lines of conversation. Warn boys about the dangers of online porn. Pull them up if you hear them calling a girl a ‘slut’ or using the word ‘girl’ in a derogatory manner. Make sure they understand that women are people, not decoration or devices for their sexual gratification.
Challenge the gender binary. Without this rigid division of the human race, sexism and gender inequality would dissolve. Look at all the ways that gender is reinforced. Notice sexualisation in the media.
Examine your choices. Do you really wear high heels because you like them? Wear make-up because you want to? If nobody else would ever see them, would you still wax your legs? Do you tone down your clothing selections so as not to attract unwanted attention? Do you decide not to buy something because it ‘makes you look fat’? Do you buy skin products in the hope that they will prevent you from ‘looking old’? Often we have to adhere to societal expectations to stay out of trouble. I am not saying turn up to work in a tracksuit instead of a skirt and heels. Just understand why you wear that skirt and heels.
Women are not decoration. Your level of attractiveness to others has no bearing on your worth as a person. The colour of your skin, eyes, hair, the number of your clothing size, your height, your freckles, your wrinkles, your scars, none of these make you any more or less deserving of happiness. Or love. Or respect.
Always believe those who claim to be victims of abuse. The number of false accusations is miniscule compared to the number of victims who are disbelieved or who never speak up at all. Chances are, if somebody tells you they have been assaulted or abused, they have. And the price of not believing them is far greater than the slight chance that what they are saying is untrue.
Do not accuse women of ‘playing victim’, or having a ‘victim mentality’. If women are victims, it is because somebody has harmed us. Changing our attitude will not magically erase that. A woman cannot choose not to be a victim any more than she can un-rape herself. Women do not choose to be victims – do not take the blame away from the perpetrators.
Understand that violence is a gendered issue. Nine out of ten physically violent crimes are committed by men. This has been backed up over and over by official crime statistics. In terms of domestic violence, men are also grossly overrepresented as perpetrators. Don’t feel the need to weigh in with ‘but some women are violent too!’. We all know that. But one in ten does not make women ‘just as bad’. It makes violence a gendered issue.
We can make a better world for everybody. Don’t give up. Be proud of your feminist attitudes and defend your right to safety and respect. Challenge traditional gender expectations and ridiculous ‘beauty standards’ created for the purposes of control and corporate gain. Examine the unfairness that has been background noise for years.
We hold up half the sky. It is time for women to raise our hands, raise our voices and take what we should never have been denied in the first place – our autonomy.