Should I be a feminist?

Our readership has probably figured out that feminism is a favoured topic for The Tab. Slut Walk created a rape debate, whilst the case for banning ‘Lads Mags’ from the […]

Our readership has probably figured out that feminism is a favoured topic for The Tab. Slut Walk created a rape debate, whilst the case for banning ‘Lads Mags’ from the union shop has been a highly contested one. Yet all of these anxieties regarding the treatment of women has left me asking myself- Should I be a feminist?

As far as I’m concerned, one can consider themselves a feminist if he/she believes that men and women should have equal rights. Sure, I agree with that. But once exposed to wider debates, such as those above and ones expressed in FEMSOC’s facebook group (it’s open to the public you know), I feel that my gender ideology is somewhat dated and inadequate to those who are more conscious of gender equality.

Take the ever popular ‘Uni Lad’ or ‘Lad Bible’ sites. Clearly a platform for self-proclaimed ‘Lads’ to make sexist remarks that they don’t really believe or wouldn’t say to someone in public. Clearly a means to boost the male ego by undermining those they consider below them- According to the feminists. Or, clearly a joke that’s limited to facebook shares and sarcasm in day-to-day conversation. Should I be offended that women are thought of as inferior? Should I be offended that women are the expense of jokes?

The never ending battle?

No. Because they are merely jokes, not common beliefs. Honestly, when have you actually seen a man seriously demand a woman to make him a sandwich? Maybe I’m being too literal- it’s not what the jokes are saying about women, it’s the fact that women are still being subjected? But let’s face it, we’ve got it quite good. We have the vote, the freedom of speech, the ability to own our own property and money, rape is illegal and we do not rely on men to start a family. In the grand scheme of things, what harm can a few jokes cause? The infamous Scotsman and Irishman don’t seem to kick up as big a fuss about banter….

Furthermore, when stalking the FEMSOC group (as a Tab writer I will shamelessly admit this), I was alarmed to see one feminist regard an innocent joke as offensive to women ‘I have absolutely no idea about this. Don’t come too slutty? You might get cold. Or just bare all and bring a coat (preferably)’. Surely this is common sense rather misogynistic, of course all girls aren’t ‘slutty’. You don’t have to watch Mean Girls several times to realise that women are more critical of each other and more likely to brandish the ‘S’ words to one another. Shouldn’t women look at themselves, rather than men when pointing the finger at misogyny?

In regards to the ‘Lad-mag-gate’, in banning the publications promoting the sexualisation of women, aren’t the feminists alienating women? After all, they’re the ones berating the exposure of the female bodies, whilst men are just appreciating this. As a woman, one should be able to take pride in the body that defines her sex. Taking pride in our appearance does not mean we use it purely for men’s entertainment. With this comes self confidence and appreciation from others, including other women.

Maybe I am supporting men, why shouldn’t I? We should all get along shouldn’t we? Who says that guys who wear low cut v-neck t-shirts (All Saints, you know who you are), or who wear polos too tight for them to accentuate their biceps are any better than girls in short skirts? What about the inevitable action of removing ones shirt when Baywatch raises the Jesters or Sobar roofs- guys use their bodies to be noticed as much as girls. Men don’t condemn men for this, why should women suffer the same criticism from their sex?  Should we therefore ban Mens Health and Cosmo in the Union Shop too?

Men's Health- Alienating male students who do not want to be defined by cover models?

With feminism also comes double standards. Call me cynical, but I’m sure those who condemn the publicising of scantily clad female bodies and sexist jokes would be first to take up the offer of ‘women and children first on the life boats’. When taken on a date, would a feminist expect a man to assist her with her coat, pull out and tuck in her chair, or even pay for the bill? After all, he’d only offer such luxuries as traditional gender norms of male chivalry call upon men to treat women. But feminists would condemn this as it undermines their ability to use their wealth and manners to flatter, wouldn’t they?

Of course, there’s more to women than appearance, sexuality and relationships, whether familial or platonic. Yes, sex appeal, looks and relationship ideals can detract from independence and intelligence. Feminists argue that all women should be treated the same as men, but this in fact alienates those who believe that both sexes do not have to be equal in every sense. Some of us like to use our physical appearance to impress. Many women enjoy the physical presence and sense of security a man can provide. Just because one group of women take offence to men’s reaction to women, or how females portray themselves, does not mean every other woman is. Feminists could be accused of alienating those of us who like to use our bodies how we like and focus on our relationships with individual men, instead of generalising the other attitudes of the sex.

There’s obviously more to feminism that the battle against ‘Lads Mags’, sexist jokes and how women should dress. Yes, feminism was, and still is key in determining the position of women in society. Yet, whether their more radical beliefs and campaigns are in our best interests or reflect the ideas of all British women is debatable.