Feminism, contrary to, unfortunate still popular belief, is an anti-men movement. It isn’t. Whichever wave of feminism you want to call it (are we now on the 4th, 5th or 6th?!) this is a pro-equality movement. This movement calls for equality for all humans in every aspect of politics, economics and society. It just so happens that the majority of the humans who make up this global movement are the 52% of the population who have been historically marginalised: women.
Right now, it is hard to deny that we are in the midst of a ‘feminism revival’ where the word is said openly and people are actively engaging with the movement. The greatest victory of the 21st Century is that the accession of Donald Trump to the Presidency was greeted by a global march for equality by women, men and children from all walks of life, rather than a global effort to bury our heads in the sand.
Feminism in its most recent form is about achieving a society where people are treated equally, certain body parts or functions do not determine your prospects, gender does not consign to certain stereotypes and people are not rigidly placed into pre-determined boxes the moment they emerge into the world.
This new face of the feminist movement should also ensure that the myth that there is an archetypal or perfect feminist is done away with and that we value every member of our club whoever they are. In a similar token, it should be perfectly okay to cherry-pick the parts of feminism that you identify with the most in order to build your own model.
How about: upon entering the Feminist Club you get given a handbook advising you on how to ‘Build Your Own Feminist’ as opposed to what we currently have: you enter and instantly feel the pressure to read the back catalogue of Germaine Greer, hate wearing high heels and deplore the invention of the razor whilst listening to Woman’s Hour. Not that there is anything wrong with any of those things and if that appeals to you then, hooray! Be the type of feminist that you want to be, the one that is going to help you better understand your own values and contribute a positive change to our world.
Indeed, there are many parts of feminism that I don’t agree with or conform to. I do not completely abhor a strange man’s attention in the street, be that through wolf-whistling or cat-calling, as long as it does not step-up a level and become a physical danger. I enjoy spending an evening having several drinks down the local pub and sometimes relish being the only girl amongst two dozen rugby lads. I am a young girl with loose morals but I have a sharp mind and am smart enough to gauge when this becomes a problem. As long as I, overall, adhere to the basic rules of taking responsibility for making the world a better place, stand up for what I believe is right, use my voice as a weapon to break down barriers and stay open to new ideas, my inclusion in the Club is ensured because, believe it or not, it is possible to have different opinions and diversity.
In fact, if there is to be one defining, overarching rule of feminism it should be this: that there is constant debate and revision, because the more new ideas and viewpoints that are brought to the table, the closer we are going to get to equality. This ideal does not come without tolerance or acceptance that no one person is the same to someone else.
The secret to the success of this new version of the feminist movement lies with all of us uniting, no matter what our gender, skin colour, background or cultural experience. Of course, we are not capable of being completely empathetic 100% of the time and no one of us is exactly the same; but there are enough shared experiences and man-made constructs about being a woman that restrict our progress for us to unite against.
Life for females is harder; without question. This is fundamentally because of the vacuum that we grow up in. Walking alone in the dark is scary and dangerous for women, periods are something we should be ashamed of, our bodies are temples that are to be worshipped only by men, choosing to wear skimpy clothing means we deserve to be sexually assaulted, getting drunk and behaving remotely unladylike is a crime against our gender and you can forget actually enjoying sex and having as much of it as you choose, because that makes you a slut. None of this is right and there needs to be a collective and decisive push to change this narrative.
Fundamentally: be whatever bloody type of feminist you choose. Admonish bras from your drawers and love bathing in gin every weekend, or worship Mary Wollstonecraft and follow traditional values on how a lady should behave. Do whatever you want, as long as you are constantly reading, questioning, contributing to the spread of ideas and focusing on the bigger picture: creating a world where our sex does not stereotype, discriminate against or belittle us.