Help reclaim the word feminism and celebrate it - Argus Friday the 4th December 2015

Posted Friday 4th December 2015   By Ericka Waller

The word feminist has become difficult to use after persistent confusion about its meaning. Over the last few years 'feminism' has become synonymous with words such as 'angry' 'radical' and 'lesbian' instead of its actual meaning, 'equal', 'rights', and 'opportunities'. Rather than the magical killing curse, 'Avada Kedavra', Harry Potter Actress Emily Watson was advised not to say the word 'feminism' in her UN speech, as it was too dangerous. (She said it anyway). The confusion over what feminism actually means was demonstrated in the lead up to this years International Men's Day (IMD). International Women's Day has been celebrated since 1911, but thousands of women took to social media to scorn the 'radical' news that men be allowed the equivalent.

MP Jess Philips, a self-proclaimed feminist raged "Isn't every day international men's day?" Others used Twitter to show their hypercritical anger at men for being allowed a commensurate day of recognition saying "Shut up man babies".

The University of York actually cancelled recognition of IMD on campus after a group of women's rights campaigners lobbied against it.

Matthew Edwards, a Student at York University said 'IMD is about raising issues such as high male suicide rates, male rape and male domestic abuse. These do no necessarily conflict with women's rights."

Whilst IMD was created to be a day for men to talk about 'things men are not supposed to talk about' some used the platform to celebrate women and take up the torch of gender equality on their behalf.

British Star Trek Actor, Patrick Stewart went to social media wearing his 'this is what a feminist looks like t-shirt' saying 'People won't listen to you or take you seriously unless you are an old white man, and since I am an old white man, I am going to use it to help the people who need it'

Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada is a proud feminist. His cabinet is the first in Canadian history to be split gender equal. When asked why this was important to him, he replied 'because it's 2015".

Turkish Actor, Ali Erkazan led protests wearing a mini skirt in the street, after a 20 year old girl was murdered by a minubus driver who said she 'deserved it for wearing a short outfit'

Canadian Actor, Ryan Gosling spoke out about the different ratings given to depictions of male and female sexuality in film, calling for equality.

Indian Film Director Vikas Bahl, made a video in response to the gang rape and murder of a female student in Delhi.

The three-minute viral video shows a young women being offered help by a group of men after her car breaks down on a secluded road. Although the men seem predatory, they simply give her a lift home. Bahl wanted to visualise a utopia for women where mistrust and fear don't dictate actions and decisions. (watch it here on you tube).

Vottorio Colao, Chief Exec of Vodafone Italy has made gender equality in senior positions his number one ambition.

Men using IMD to promote gender equality could be interpreted as 'patronising' or 'unnecessary' by the angry mob, or it could be interpreted as a chance to reclaim the word feminism and celebrate it's meaning being actualised by both sexes.

In the words of Patrick Stewart's Star Trek character Jean-Luc Picard, let's hope it 'makes it's so'.

And finally

There used to be twelve days of Christmas, but not anymore. People already have trees up, presents wrapped and sparkly jumpers on. Facebook is awash with baubles.

Our Noel now lasts longer than our summer.

I don't mind this, as it gives me two whole months to bribe good behaviour from my children with the classic 'I'll just call Father Christmas and tell him you don't want to put your shoes on shall I?'.

Much as I like to do my shopping from home, online, in my pants with a mug of hot Ribena and hair removal cream on my upper lip, I am forcing myself to go into town each week to look for stocking fillers. There is joy in scouring the lanes and finding trinkets, but know your limits.

Once you have heard 'I wish it could be Christmas' more than three times blaring out shop speakers, go home before you go mad.