So as usual, I’m a little bit behind the times with my post about International Women’s day, which took part on 8th March. For me, IWD is such an important day in terms of feminism and general gender equality. Cheris Kramarae author co-author of the Internation Encyclopedia of Women almost perfectly sums up my view of feminism in that it is:
‘…the radical notion that women are human beings.’
I’m proud to be a feminist but yet I feel there’s a really bad name for those who choose to identify as one. I think feminism is not only vital to continue to champion rights for women, but it is also essential for men to gain equality too. I think there still lies and great deal of inequality for women in many areas of life such as work and politics. I’m proud to believe in a collective movement that has gained so much for women and really closed in on the gap between the sexes. As Laura Pankhurst, the great great-grand daughter of Emmeline Pankhurst rightly put it when interviewed for the BBC at the London International Women’s Day equality march, gaining women the vote was the first step on a long journey towards a real equality between the sexes with education, childcare, parenting the the prevention of violence towards women being but a few of the areas in which injustices still exist.
I think my issue with some aspects of radical feminism isn’t the shortsightedness in the view that feminism is a women’s issue. Gender inequality is faced by both men and women and I feel that we all need feminism regardless of our gender to help put a stop to inequality for both of the sexes and for individuals who view themselves to fit out of our fairly outdated binary gender system. I think if feminists view the ’cause’ as purely for women, they become part of the problem of inequality that sits at the real heart of it all.
A key area of concern, I feel, is the inequality in care for those who suffer from eating disorders. The NICE guidelines showed that 1.6 million people in the UK were affected by eating disorders in 2004 and 11% of them were men. in 2007 the NHS Information Centre found that in a snapshot survey of individuals over 16 in the UK, an alarming 6.4% had a problem with food. The problem is that this figure is considered to only be the tip of the iceberg as there are a huge amount of sufferers who are very ‘high functioning’ and do not receive or seek support for their disorders. The worrying fact is that a majority of eating disorder inpatient services, which are highly oversubscribed already, offer services aimed primarily at women. Men are being missed, and for me that is a real example of gender inequality that is just one example of the problems faced at the moment, something that I feel needs urgent attention. I wish there was a simple and quick fix answer or solution to gender inequality but unfortunately I think it will be an important area of work for a long while yet. I think the key would be to focus on what feminism can do for all individuals rather than adding to the problem by only focusing on women.
I am very lucky to have been surrounded by some wonderful and strong women throughout my life. The women who have loved me, inspired me, supported me and helped me to become the person I am today. I am so incredibly blessed to have had you all in my life and love you all more than I can express. If I can be just a little like you all, then I think I’ll be doing fairly well.