Feminist Friday With… Lou Sarabadzic

For tonight’s Feminist Friday guest post Lou Sarabadzic, a blogger and all around awesome lady, speaks about growing up as a Feminist.

I realised I was a feminist as a child. I must have been 11 or 12, tops. I obviously didn’t know what it meant. I only started wondering about it because almost as soon as I voiced a clear opinion (or heard another girl/woman voice an opinion), however trivial – a terrified grown-up would ask me the question: ‘But you’re not a feminist, right?’ Has there not been such an offended, derisive and reproachful tone in their question, I probably wouldn’t have given it much thought. But people (friends, family, strangers, virtually everyone) sounded so offended that I MIGHT be a feminist, that I MIGHT want to like or defend another woman, that I thought: wait… what does that actually mean?

I asked people. Many people. Mostly grown-ups and teenagers. I read magazines aimed at women. Then I took a dictionary. And the difference between people’s definition and the dictionary’s one was so unbelievably big I wondered if I got the spelling right… I was being told by pretty much everyone that feminists were extreme, violent, aggressive, old-fashioned, ugly and unlovable. And in the dictionary, it just said that it was just a case of defending women’s rights, because for so long, they hadn’t been the same as the men’s (still are not, but it didn’t say…).

My feminism is deeply rooted in anger, and there’s no way I’ll hide that, or try to sugar-coat it. I’m so angry at everything the world sends our way. I’m outraged everyday by what is normalised. I hate that this oppression is everywhere I go, in whatever situation. I hate even more that I am expected to apologise for not liking it, sometimes even asked to be thankful for it. It still pains me to realise each time that I am the one who needs to explain myself for feeling outraged by unequal treatment and obvious violence. Surely, you can’t ignore the shit women have to experience all over the world every freaking day, can you?

I’m in the position of an extremely privileged feminist. I’m white, middle-class, I went to University. I was able to spend years working on rhetoric, studying gender and language/literature to be ready to discuss relevant topics. So many women are not lucky enough to make that choice. In addition, so many women face even more prejudice and experience the most disgusting discrimination because they don’t conform in one way or another: not white enough, not Western enough, not wealthy enough, not straight enough, not sexualised enough, not Cis enough, not female enough…

 I’m convinced as a feminist that intersectionality should be an absolute priority: we need to hear and empower people, not make decisions in their names and patronise them. There are many ways to support intersectionality. As a bookworm, reading is my way of spreading thoughts and ideas: I post excerpts of books I read on Twitter and Facebook. Many of these books are openly feminist. It’s essential that many are from under-represented writers: ethnic minorities, LGBTQIA*, disabled authors… When people say: ‘how could I encourage intersectionality myself? I’m not in power, nor a manager or a journalist, you know!’, I say: well, as privileged human beings we both are, I know a simple, free option: go to the library and borrow books to hear voices we don’t usually hear. Read blogs, articles, I don’t know. Whatever you want to do: read, listen, share.

I strongly believe that feminism is necessary to both individual and collective survival. And we’re not done fighting. So I guess, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie puts it, we should all be feminists.

Thank you so much, Lou, for this brilliant post. If you’d like to be a part of Feminist Fridays please contact me on chloefmetzger@gmail.com I’d love to hear from you! 

Feminist Friday: Every Day Feminism

If you’ve read Laura Bate’s wonderful book Every Day Sexism, you’ll agree that while it’s a brilliant read, it can also be quite overwhelming. I sat for quite a while thinking about what I wanted to write about this week, before putting it to a vote. After last weeks incredible guest post by Jess, I was struggling. The whole point of Feminist Friday and the guest posts within it is to share stories, experiences and unite feminists which lead me to question if we are grateful enough each day for the small battles won and recognise our privilege?

 

Although here in the UK, where I’m writing, we still have a long way to go, we have a lot of privileges that other women around the world don’t have. I get up in the morning, choose my clothes and get in my own car before driving to work to earn my own money. All of those steps are things that most of us will take for granted on a daily basis. While we may encounter misogyny and sexism in regards to what we wear or in the work place, generally we do have laws to protect us, which isn’t the case for many women.

While it’s important to call out sexism, to write blog posts, go on marches it’s also important to stop and be grateful for small things that we have that others might not. I don’t know about you, but stopping once a day to just be grateful for an aspect of my life that I can thank the feminists before me for, isn’t something I do often. We focus on what we still need to do, which is great. At the same time, there have been some AMAZING women before us who have paved the way for us to be able to continue fighting. In realising this we can combat the idea of superficial feminism, we can be grateful for what we have, while also working so that all women around the world can have the same.

So, I thought I’d share my own list of things I’m grateful to be able to do/have thanks to the brilliant women who came before me.

I am educated, other girls were not able to enjoy an education.

I am free to love who I like, other women cannot.

I can earn my own money, other women are tied to men.

I can speak up and make my voice heard, while others are threatened with death for doing so.

I have access to women’s health services, while many are not.

I am grateful.

 

What are you grateful for? Let me know in the comments below.

 

Feminist Friday with… Jess Willby

Feminism is… Listening to other women

This is a guest post by Jess Wilby, a Manchester based lifestyle blogger who writes for philocalist.co.uk.

My only brief is write about what feminism means to you.” This was my only guidance from Chloe and it really got me thinking. The commute home isn’t one that usually inspires me. Believe me, the wet armpit of another commuter certainly isn’t my regular muse. But as I made my way, trapped on a hot & sticky Metrolink carriage, I thought about all the ways I’d been wronged as a woman. Being paid less, because I am a woman. Being cat called in the street, because I am a woman. Travelling in fear that someone might grope me during the commuter rush because I am a woman.

But really, that’s just me in my little bubble. Feminism is about that – but also, it’s about something much bigger. Feminism to me is actually more about knowing what it means to you.

We all live within our own parameters. Try as we might, we will never be able to truly understand what it’s like to live someone else’s life. Empathy is one thing, but I mean truly understanding. That’s why the modern day feminist will never quite have all the answers and actually, our greatest tool is listening to someone else and letting them tell their own story.

There is power in silence; in the ability to shut the fuck up for a moment and stop banging on about your own personal brand of girl power.

The task of achieving absolute gender equality is almost unfathomable but you’re not going to achieve anything if you only exclusively focus on your own goals. Self-care is dope but contrary to popular belief we’re not just out here spinning on a space rock for our own personal development, you know?

It’s time we stopped excusing our ignorance and instead actively seek out varying experiences of womanhood. The internet might be a big place, but it’s not hard to find and share stories from women living a life different to your own.

Whether it’s Grace Victory talking to you about the lack of diversity in blogging, Stephanie Yeboah telling you how black fat women matter too or Ali Catrin explaining what it’s like to live with Autism, we need to take their words on board and celebrate their voice. Devour every word and pass it on, champion them for speaking out.

By listening and sharing these stories, you are empowering the women who truly need to hear them. The girls who feel alone; who are in the same position, needing someone to look up to. I’ll say it again, there’s power in listening to these experiences. You don’t need to put your own spin on it, we only need to take these women at their word.

Believing, listening, sharing – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t experienced the issues yourself, you can still be part of the domino effect. Not only will your own mindset start to change by exposing yourself to new ideas, so will those around you. Suddenly women who previously may not have been willing to share their voice feel empowered to do so because they know there are people who will listen.

And so – if like me – you ever find yourself armpit-deep on a sweaty, commuter-packed Metrolink take a moment to think about how the other women around you are feeling in that moment. What story do they have to tell and would you be there to listen?

 

Thank you so much to Jessica for this post, I completely agree. If YOU want to get involved with Feminist Fridays email chloefmetzer@gmail.com with ‘Feminist Friday’ in the subject line.

Feminist Friday: Born or Becoming a Woman?

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If you’ve ever studied Feminism or Women’s writing you’ll know the quote I’m thinking of when I started to write this post. It started in France with one of the greatest feminist writers of all time; ‘one is not born, but rather becomes a woman’ Simone de Beauvior argued and how right she was. There’s a lot of debate in feminism about what feminism means to each and every one of us. I enjoy debate, it’s healthy in an intelligent society as long as we are willing to listen to each other.

I truly believe that no one is born into a gender. I wrote essay after essay in university about how gender is socially constructed, it’s not in our DNA. I loved those classes, because I really passionately believed in de Beauvior, in Judith Butler etc, I also wanted to apply it to a modern problem. Something that many wanted to ignore. I 100% believe we need to include Transgender women in the fight for equality and feminism. A few years ago Germaine Greer made very unfair and uneducated assumptions about Trans women.

While I myself am I white Cis female, I care very strongly about the LGBTQ community. I truly believe that all women, no matter what, have a right to equality. There’s no one shape for a woman, no one idea, that’s what feminism is about! Being ourselves and being respected. In each culture there is an idea of what a man is supposed to be and what a woman is supposed to be, it’s not hard-wired because of our genitals. It’s who we feel we are.

If someone goes through the experience of living in the wrong body, having to tell that to the people they love in the fear of rejection and then try to fit in with other women then, damn, they’ve tried harder than me. If they are not a woman then I am certainly not. I have my own struggles, problems and issues, we all do but to be insulted after all that and be told you’re still not accepted? I don’t believe in it, to me it goes against everything feminism stands for. We are what is in our hearts, not our pants.

We each become who we are, who we feel we are inside. Some become women, some become men. We, hopefully, become who we are inside.

I’d love to open up a conversation with you all in the comments below or on Twitter about this! If I have any trans readers who maybe want to talk privately DM me (@chloemetzger) or drop me an email on chloefmetzger@gmail.com, as always I’d love to hear from you all!