Sunday, 4 November 2012

Fuck You, Julie Bindel

Sorry, I know that is a little rude, considering we have never met. However, you wrote an article in the New Statesman that made me really angry, so here we are.

Your article was a damning invective on 'Fun Feminism' which is, in your words, a movement 'about personal liberty and matter how destructive or harmful it may be to the individual or to women as a class' and quite frankly, it made me want to spit. I know that things aren't how they were in your day but thats because um...well things actually AREN'T how they were in your day. Thats sort of how time works, you see. Unless you are Doctor Who. And I looked you up on wikipedia and that's a big thing to miss out. 

Don't get me wrong, me and my 'fun feminist' friends are eternally and deeply grateful to past generations of feminists. Due to your efforts, I have the vote, the right to equal pay, the right not to be passed over for a job, the right not to be raped by my husband and the right to pee standing up if I want to. (Overrated) Thanks for that. I can also wear trousers, access contraception and have an abortion without resorting to the ol' coathanger up the vagina trick. I also could have taken metalwork instead of textiles for GCSE but hey, I prefer embroidery to hacksaws. You can lead a horse to water but you cant make it make a wine rack. 

You compared the feminist struggle to the abolition of apartheid in South Africa and I love a good extended metaphor, so I'm going to run with it.  

'Did anyone notice white people, who were by definition responsible for the introduction and maintenance of apartheid in South Africa, being placated and excused by black civil rights activists?' 

This is an interesting point. I particularly like how 'white people' were ALL responsible for the introduction and maintenance of apartheid in South Africa. Not just the corrupt and racist  South African government but ALL WHITE PEOPLE. Presumably even you, as you were alive during this time. Shame on you Julie Bindel, shame. 

I kid of course, but as you demonstrated in your article, the use of hyperbole to hammer home a point is a powerful tool. In your comparison of the two, you missed out all the white people who aided the ANC, even though it wasn't in their best interests. They were a little slow and a little reluctant, sure, but eventually they levied the necessary sanctions and apartheid was abolished. Of course, without the initial radical, brave and unpopular actions of the oppressed people in question, probably no-one would have gotten around to it for AGES. 

Action was taken, and things got changed. On paper, equal rights were restored. Everyone could eat in the same restaurants and drink from the same water fountains but SOME IDIOT forgot to mention that solving complex social issues, particularly those with strong vested interests for those in power is a bit more complicated than passing a couple of new laws and-Shock! Horror!-racism is still a problem in South Africa. 

Coming back on to the whole feminism issue (which is a shame, I was all ready to go fight racism in South Africa, maybe record a benefit album) radical action was necessary to secure the basic rights of women to be treated the same as men. They still need some fine tuning, but we essentially have the same legal rights as men. I'm twenty-two years old and I was born into a world with women doctors, female firemen and the option to play with tractors rather than dolls. I was told I could grow up to be pretty much anything and so I chose to be a sarky feminist blogger. The webs we weave. 

Sexism is irrefutably still an issue but (forgive me if I am wrong) I'm pretty sure the whole point of fighting it in the first place was so that women (ALL women) could be free to make the choices they wanted about their lives. We have those basic freedoms and now oops, it looks like some women are making choices you don't like. Sorry Julie (can I call you Julie?) but that isn't how it works. You can't release a bird from captivity and then whinge because it didn't fly to the right tree or immediately turn round and start trying to free it's fellow birds. 

Another thing I LOVED about your article (and there were so many) was the way you felt you could speak for and patronise heterosexual women. Poor old us, we have to 'love our oppressor'. Would't the world be so much easier if we could, I don't know-kill all men? Keep them all as pets and milk them for their sperm? I'm sure you'd be pissed if I presumed to speak for all lesbian women so please dont presume to speak for me. I love men, despite their occasional abuses of power and privilege. I see myself as a disappointed parent-I know men can do better and I just want to see them reach their potential. 

Finding points of compromise and difference is part of being human. Feminism cant continue to be a force of hatred that excludes men. In order to have a recognisable voice in modern society, you have to be accessible. If, every time I was asked by one of my male friends (sorry, that's so anti-feminist of me: I obviously mean 'my oppressors') I turned round and said 'FUCK YOU MALE CHAUVINIST PIG! HOW DARE YOU TRY TO UNDERSTAND MY SUFFERING!' no one would ever want to talk to me. Feel free to stand on the fringes screaming at people, but if I want to be an involved and participatory member of society, I will. 

And if my choosing to do that in a skirt with a pink bow in my hair and my (male) hamster in my apron pocket displeases you, tough. Be careful what you wish for. 


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