This is something I've identified with for many years now, and that the advent of Twitter has assisted greatly - in connecting with other feminists, and in learning about inequalities in the world that are perpetuated by outdated government policy, advertising, Hollywood films and influential bigots.
So on Saturday I was very excited to attend my first feminist conference, Go Feminist. I went with my friend Emily Wearmouth, who is awesome in technology PR and can count Stephen Fry amongst her Twitter followers, and her friend Claire Scott, who is a continuum theory expert and new to calling herself a feminist.
The three of us agreed that particularly the first half of the conference was somewhat preaching to the converted, and not only this, it also wallowed a bit too much in victimhood. The first speaker of the first panel discussion was a Congolese refugee who had been forced to live rough for some years after her asylum claim was rejected. While there is no denying that her experience is tragic and wrong, Em pointed out in particular that there was nothing in particular about her experience that indicated that her experience of seeking asylum was worse because she was a woman.
The next panel featured another asylum seeker - this time a disabled one, and also a deaf feminist. Again, I don't wish to trivialise their problems, which are immense, but I feel that we need to address first the issues that face all women, because all women in turn will then be in a better position should something terrible happen to further marginalise them. In a one-day conference, why not address the broad issues and attempt to find a way to bring about change?
This is where the second half of the day excelled. A discussion on sexism in popular culture featured BBC broadcaster and media regular Bidisha, along with a panel that included a young mother representing Platform 51, an advertising executive and Paris Lees, editor of META magazine and trans issues campaigner. In a far more dynamic atmosphere, these women talked about the vested interest in keeping women unhappy - you can't sell anti-wrinkle cream unless having wrinkles is a problem. They talked about the need for an entire culture shift, and that we are living in an age of protest - the sense that no, this is not acceptable and we, the 99% will not stand for it. That any woman who doesn't identify as a feminist is completely bonkers, and this must change (as Caitlin Moran says in her marvellous book How to be a Woman, here is the test: "a) do you have a vagina? b) do you want to be in charge of it? If you said 'yes' to both, then congratulations! You're a feminist.") They talked about women in sport being considered a 'niche' market. They talked about the fact that women's issues are people's issues.
My buddies and I were pretty thrilled with our day of discussion, and we have decided to set up a monthly dinner in which we get to talk about feminist stuff. With an agenda and all. The first is on Feb 20.
I also decided to write up this little list of some of my favourite feminist resources on the web. If you have any that should be on the list, please feel free to add to it in the comment section:
The Bechdel Test
My favourite litmus test for the presence of women in popular culture. It’s a great eye-opener.
An organisation that runs targeted campaigns against the marketing of pink culture to small children.
Funny, smart opinions about all things to do with women – tackles media, celebrity, pop culture, abortion rights, politics, sex, fashion. US based.
Started by Mia Freedman, former editor of Cosmo in Australia, mother of three. She was the person who made me realise I was a feminist when I was a teenager. Plenty of wide-ranging topics from parenting to travel, raunch culture, gay rights. Very interested in calling out over-use of photoshop in celebrity images and sexualisation of children.
Here are a few articles from Mama Mia to get you going:
Straight White Men: you're not oppressed
Anything wrong with this picture?
What's the difference between a men's magazine and a rapist?
Female commentators and the fuckability factor
A series of videos that attack Hollywood and big companies like Lego, one anti-feminist trope at a time.
An article on the excellent social media campaign to hit Kyle Sandilands where it hurts: in the pocket.
A blog detailing the reaction to Diva Accessories’ choice of marketing the playboy range to its tween market, the subsequent protest and eventual
And finally, the article that got me retweeted by Eddie Izzard:
It's up to parents to resist the tyranny of the pink princess