The creation of a charity, from the very beginning.
There seems to be a re-occurring ‘motif’ in my life at the moment.
Over the last four years, at least once a month, my best friend and I find ourselves sitting cross-legged on the floor of some grotty bathroom in some grotty club, having an existential crisis. We discuss love and life and why we’re still going to grotty clubs and sitting on their bathroom floors. And we spend hours concluding that the universe has bigger and better plans for us (-I should hope so!). It’s very deep, very repetitive and has frequently earned us the well-earned title, from friends and strangers alike, of being “the weirdest girls I’ve ever met”.
Last week, I feel, however, that we cranked “weird” up a notch.
Anyone who knows us, if they had three words to describe us, would almost undoubtedly include the word ‘feminist’. We fly that flag high. Numerous pleasant dinner parties have collapsed in to screaming arguments about why high-heels are a disgrace to humankind, or the fact that “if she wants to grow a moustache, she can bloody well grow a moustache and SHE WILL LOOK BLOODY BRILLIANT!” I cannot remember the last time I left a party with my friend without her having a drawn-on handle-bar moustache…What can I say? There’s always a lot of wine involved.
However, last week, rather than be content with the classic Bathroom Existential Crisis, we decided it important- nay, imperative- that we pen feminist mantras on the arms of every man that spoke to us. Again, there was a lot of wine involved. By the end of the night there was a small and eclectic army of people dancing around a Manchester club with feminist quotes on their skin. It was BEAUTIFUL.
What always surprises me when talking about Feminism, is how few people know what Feminism is, and how even fewer people would describe themselves as a Feminists. The worst offenders, without a doubt, are the successful, independent, rational and intelligent women I love. Now, I am not claiming to offer the ultimate definition of ‘Feminism’. Like anything else it is open to interpretation, debate and discussion. But I want to clarify what it means to me- and why it is central to my work.
From reading Germaine Greer to Betty Friedan; from Carol Hanisch to Caitlin Moran, I have to say that, for me, Caitlin Moran sums it up best.[Now, as lazy as it is to quote chunks of her work, I adore her so much, that it was ultimately inevitable… and the woman knows how to make a point!]:
‘We need the only word we have ever had to describe “making the world equal for men and women”. Women’s reluctance to use it sends out a really bad signal. Imagine if, in the 1960s, it had become fashionable for black people to say they “weren’t into” civil rights.
“No! I’m not into civil rights! That Martin Luther King is too shouty. He just needs to chill out, to be honest.”
But then, I do understand why women started to reject the word “feminism”. It ended up being invoked in so many bafflingly inappropriate contexts that- if you weren’t actually aware of the core aims of feminism, and were trying to work it out simply from surrounding conversation- you’d presume it was some spectacularly unappealing combination of misandry, misery and hypocrisy, which stood for ugly clothes, constant anger and, let’s face it, no fucking.’
What Feminism is, as Caitlin succinctly puts it, is “making the world equal for men and women”. Nothing more, nothing less. I don’t think women are better than men. I don’t think women are the same as men. But I believe that we are equal.
And it works both ways. No woman, or man, should be denied any rights based on their gender. Extending paternity leave is a Feminist issue. Recognizing that men can be victims of Domestic Violence and Sexual Exploitation, is a Feminist issue. Don’t let the name fool you. It means ‘equality’.
As I glanced across the crowd of Noel Gallagher wannabes, dancing to Stone Roses with their Betty Friedan tattoos, I got a glimpse of how it must feel to be Bob Geldof. This was our Band Aid. The room was full of men and women, proudly proclaiming that we are all equal. (Okay, so in the morning, most people will be cursing the day they met us, as they try desperately, between the stabbing head pains of their hangover, to scrub off the permanent marker on their arms.) But on that night, at that moment, I told myself, “We can change the world, one person at a time.”
So, I’ll have to test my theory when I’m sober.