And back on feminism! How exciting!
Before I was so rudely interrupted by going and freezing my metaphorical nuts off in Mallorca for a week, and then writing about it for two months, I was talking about a couple of things in particular. The first is what I dubbed ‘Faux-Approbators’, ie those sickly inspirational slogans which appear at certain times in Facebook posts and greetings cards and fridge magnets. Things like “Don’t be a woman that needs a man. Be the woman a man needs*”. I dubbed them “Faux-Approbators” because of the way they praise women for fulfilling their socially approved roles; for being the way we think women “should” be. Strong, graceful, attractive, self-disciplined, humourous, caring, tender, organised, etc. These crop up all over the place, and generally make me a little bit sick in my mouth, since they seem to me to be putting forward a single socially approved version of womanhood which may or may not speak to many women’s experience.
The second thing I was writing about is the reason which is often given for gender inequality, namely, It’s All Your Fault Anyway. This crops up in lots of places and forms, such as when pay inequality is blamed on women for not taking higher paid jobs, or sexual assault blamed on women for wearing the wrong clothes, hanging out in the wrong bars, getting into the wrong mini cab, etc. I appreciate that much of the latter stems from a well meaning attempt to protect women, but it does rather encourage the view that male on female violence is just something that happens and which we can’t do anything about, rather like the weather**, rather than firmly making the point to men that violence against women*** is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated in any circumstances.
Why these things? Well, because they are connected. More shortly.
*Real example. Oh, how lovely for women, to be constantly defined by their relationships with men.
**If you take this analogy to its logical conclusion, you end up with the view that, rather as there is supposedly no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, similarly there are no such things as bad rapists, only women who exhibit bad behaviour. Looking at the way that women rape victims are still sometimes treated by the police, the courts and defence barristers, and the extraordinarily low levels of convictions for sexual assault compared with other crimes, you may come to the conclusion that this is indeed the view of our society.
***And violence against men too, of course. But here I’m talking about violence against women.