The only feminist in the village

by Rachel Bell on October 20, 2014

I don’t usually write personal stuff, although as any true (not the Beyoncé kind) feminist knows, the political is inextricably personal and tonight I’m going in for some female opinion in good old rant form. I moved from London to a small town, and last night I went out with two other ex Londoners and our partners and lots of beer and wine was had. My plain-speaking, and lovely, woman friend told me that a mutual friend had said to her, ‘You sure you want to put up with all that feminist stuff on your night out?’ or words to that effect. The implication was that feminists are boring and unfunny and unsexy and just not, yer know, very Saturday night. I’m real sensitive, as well as pissed about the system, so first I felt taken aback and sad, and now I feel annoyed and compelled to rant. That’s what blogs are for, get one sisters!

Most people I meet in small town never mention anything remotely feminist or utter the word. It’s just me. Now it’s properly weird that fellow educated women and mothers, indeed anyone, wants to do anything other than shout feminism from the rooftops, but they don’t. Most want to stay far away from feminism and not think about it, and if I say something feminist, they rarely join in, as if it’s all too serious but you know, sometimes the pink and blue led gender divide that is the wallpaper of childhood just gets too glaring and I dare to speak. But what the hell do they think feminism is? Why do they think I might be a feminist? Well now, because I’m normally too preoccupied with why so many men want to rape girls and women who are a tad pissed, about why women are still not able to make choices about their own reproductive system in 2014, about school girls being called sluts for wanting to try sex or forced to have their labia and clitoris cut or something, here are some answers that I don’t use often enough.

I am a feminist because I want my two sons to grow up and have really hot sex. I want them to have fun sexual adventures with as few or many people as they choose and experience an amazing emotional connection with someone. Their sexual partners will be gloriously uninhibited and body confident. If it’s a girl or woman, she will have grown up believing her body is just perfect the way it is. I am a feminist because I want my sons to enjoy the wonderful, enriching friendship of women. I want them to discover and explore sex by being with a lover, not porn. I want their school to back up the gender education I give them, so they are armed with the truth to combat the plastic lies that tell them they must always demand anal sex from women (this is now the norm among young people as a result of leaving porn to teach sex education). They will not have felt the pressure to notch up lots of shags to demonstrate their masculinity. They will not feel the need to engage in sexism that’s excused as ‘harmless banter’ down the pub to feel man enough with their peers. My boisterous, energetic, affectionate sons will be comfortable to express every facet of their humanity, including the gentle, kind sides, the silly, playful sides and the emotional sides. They won’t feel pressure to conform to any narrow mould of masculinity that is aggressive, shouty, puts other men down or talks over women. That divides men and women, as if one needed to show aggression and exert power and the other needed to be always hot to be valid because the market has told her to. I want my sons to be free to explore and find their true selves, just like the friends and sexual partners they have awesome lovely fun and passion with. They will not be waiting for their girl princess to finish up puking up her dinner in the ladies’ loo at a restaurant, feel saddened and confused about the razor marks on her arm or wondering why such an outwardly social girl is so depressed and lacking in self confidence.  They will not be traumatised by viewing porn at age 7 or 9, leaving me to explain why a multi-billion industry bigger than Hollywood exists in which people pay to watch strangers having sex, why they are watching other people instead of doing it themselves and why that woman’s mascara had run down her face because she was crying from the two dicks in her ass. They will not be one of the nearly 1 in 5 addicted to porn (see recent US Study) and alone and in debt because of it.

Why else do I bother with all this feminist stuff? Because I want every 18-year-old girl heading off to university to have lots of hot, uninhibited sex too, if that is what she fancies. She will have her sexual adventures with young men who understand that she is a human, and if she has not given her consent to sex, it means she does not want to be raped. (A report found that female students in higher education are more at risk of sexual violence than the general female population and freshers week is a particularly dangerous time. Read more here). She will go clubbing and have an amazing time and feel alive with men around her and not one will put his hand in her knickers without her wanting it or take her picture when she has fallen drunk asleep at a party. And these students will have chosen any course they damn like, including engineering or politics or sport or science or computer science, because no one will have steered them away from that route because of the godawful misogyny.

And when these young women graduate after a degree course free from sexual harassment, I want them to find a lovely job that doesn’t pay nearly 20% less than my son’s, because then she can be an independent woman with a nice home, money to spend in Top Shop and money to buy a round, without having to clean or care or cook or strip to make ends meet or spend thousands she doesn’t have on new tits and a new vagina. I want all young people to have this start in life and this is tonight’s reason why I am a feminist. And for the record, research tells us that feminists have better sex. We are very pro sex. Many of us are anti porn, because so much porn is not sex that takes two human beings. Most porn sex is a man taking what he wants in a way that ignores female pleasure, eroticizes female degradation and sees women who want pleasure as cum guzzling bitches who want spunk and piss in their eyes and shafting in the anus and who gives a fuck because she doesn’t say it’s painful because porn tells her it’s expected because her vagina is not tight enough. In Pornland, only men have adventures and the women are less than sex objects, they are fuck holes as porn has zero to do with female pleasure, emotional connection or seeing your partner as a human.

I am a feminist because I want men and women to be free to be themselves, free of gender limitations. Because girls and boys deserve better than this cult of hyper masculinity and sexual objectification of women. I want a future that is bright and joyeous, where gay people are never bashed, where lesbians are never corrective-raped, where the word ‘gay’ and ‘slut’ are never used to bully kids at school who don’t conform. I want a future where little boys and girls with beautiful big eyes do not experience war, forced marriage, domestic and sexual slavery instead of school and have their families and childhoods stolen. Oh, and a society in which rapists and murderers who do sport for a profession do not frame themselves as the victims and get away with it all. (Think feminist aren’t funny? Hadley Freeman’s piece on Ched Evans and Oscar Pistorius will give you a laugh out of this tragic state of affairs).

I am awake to the urgent need for feminism and why a single page 3 is linked to inequality for all women, and why inequality for all women is linked to global poverty and warmongering. Sure it is isolating and full of anger and sorrow to be feminist but I refuse to sleepwalk through life. And in truth, I am not the only feminist in the village. Like everytown, the wreckage left by men in domestic violence is picked up by feminists here. And I can count at least four friends who are wide awake. I laughed from the heart and danced on a cocktail-drenched Saturday night with one of them doncha know, and in case you are interested, we didn’t mention the f-word and she is naturally sexy, more alive than most people I’ve met and, unlike me, funny as fuck.

Interesting stuff:

Read this on one mother’s dilemma about porn stealing her child’s experience of sex

‘Pick one newspaper at random on any day of the week. Evidence of cruelty and violence against women is to be found on almost every page.’ Read more

Why page 3 is much more than one page of sexist tosh

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