13 Jun 2019

Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies

A short essay inspired by “Feminists Don’t Wear Pink and other lies” curated by Scarlett Curtis, which I was kindly gifted and invited to the Manchester live Podcast recording of the same name in May.

Needs to sort herself out, she’ll regret her actions, a disappointment to herself, outspoken, she’s made her bed, you don’t want to have anything to do with her, non-conformist, rude, offensive, doesn’t say the right things, acted incorrectly, wrong. What do these phrases mean, well in my case these have been the reactions and whispered mumbling of people, generally older than me, all female, that have disagreed with what I believe, the way I have conducted myself, but essentially those with a lack of understanding in who I am and what I believe in. I was born in 1993, the decade that proceeded my birth was all about #girlpower but there was no burning of bras and making effigies of all the men who had scorned us. It was about female empowerment, wearing a sexy outfit because I think I look good in it, not because a man does. It was about girls being on top, in many senses of the word. Although I was very young it was these actions that set a precedent for the young women we grew up to be. It’s therefore that as a young adult I can confidently say that I would consider myself a feminist. 

Now don’t get me wrong, there was no epiphany, I didn’t wake up one morning and was like ‘things need to change!!’ It was just a natural progression. The girl I am today is 100% different to the one I was at 16. 10 Year’s is a crazily long time yet it does feel like yesterday when I was stressing about boys and whether I’d get into medical school (plot twist, neither mattered and neither really were as I’d hoped). But the person I was seems eons away. I can’t remember when I stopped conforming to how everyone else was, maybe university? I used to wear vintage shorts, men’s shirts, Doc Martens and bows in my hair for nights out. It was a small action but it made me me. It was me saying, I’m not going to wear heels and tight little dresses and complain I’m too cold and my feet hurt so some man can grope me inappropriately in a night club and I’ll feel some sort of gratification? Nah, I’m going to be comfortable, nonconformist me. A message to 18 year old me: I promise that men will still grope you no matter what you wear, you’re not asking for it no matter what you wear, but soon you’ll understand why that’s not a good thing. 

Uni was definitely a time of change for me, I had varying relationships from one night stands to people I sort of thought I liked. I was used, I was taken advantage of and I was mean to people who didn’t deserve it but what most impacted my time a uni was my experience on the netball team. I thought it would be girl power, girls on top, working together but I soon realised it was a showboating exercise for the later sex. We would share socials together on Wednesdays. The girls would wear varying sex’d up versions of costumes; pirates, prisoners, even “chavs” and the rugby boys would usually find as many costumes as would require them to wear a skirt, read into that what you will. For me it was weird, I clashed with the girls because I got on with a lot of the boys, I would be accused of trying it on with boyfriends, they’d heard I’d slept with one of the rugby boys so I must’ve slept with them all right? Wrong. Feminism is advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of equality of the sexes. I love women but I also love men, that is equality. If a man treats me as his equal, he is not degrading, sexist, abusive, that man is just as good a person as I am. If a women does not treat me as her equal, they are degrading, sexist and abusive I do not have the time of day for that person, that doesn't make me not a feminist just because she is a woman. Feminism is about equality and if someone doesn’t dignify me or other people in their lives with the respect they deserve well I’m going to be outspoken and stand my ground and they may not agree with me, but that doesn’t make me a bad person, it makes them a bad person for not seeing that things need to change. 

At 19 my first proper boyfriend cheated on my numerous times over the year we were together. I could have stepped away from that relationship with a hatred of all menkind, become a lesbian and moved to an all female commune. But I didn’t. The way in which men have treated me, women have too (in different ways but with similar results), I end up thinking that there’s some incredible fault within me that needs to change... Message to myself and to all people thinking this: it’s not you, we all have our demons and so do they, but it’s not about you. So what do I do? I pick myself up I go and see films with boys I’ve been mates with for years, I go to the gym with my best girlfriends. It’s all about being equal. 

When I was a university I thought, maybe I just don’t get on with girls, maybe that’s why I come up against them a lot in my life, but today in 2019 I realise that’s not the case. There are many wonderful women I get on with amazingly in my life, Rachael, Fiona, Emma, Blakey, Heather, Lizzie, we’ve been friends for the majority of our lives, and I can’t wait until we are all old with kids ourselves and able to show them that they too can have friendships as great as ours. Some of the people I look up to the most are strong empowered women, Scarlett Curtis, Honey Ross, Miley Cyrus, Lady Gaga. Feminism is about supporting the people in our lives equally and without judgement. If they want tattoos let them, if they want to be a boy let her, if they want to be a girl let him, if they want to have sex with lots of people who cares, if they want to be with one person for the rest of their lives don’t stop them. 

You may think I need to sort myself out, I’ll regret my actions, be a disappointment to myself, outspoken, I’ve made my bed and I must lie in it, don’t want to have anything to do with me, non-conformist, rude, offensive, doesn’t say the right things, acted incorrectly, wrong, but that’s what you think of me. I don’t, and I have a shit tonne of people who love me and agree, and that’s all that matters. How am I trying to be a better feminist? I’m trying to educate myself so I can treat everyone equally, what are you going to do about it?

Lauren Eliza x

I massively recommend you follow @thepinkprotest and get yourself a copy of Feminists Don’t Wear Pink here!

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