I’ve been putting off writing something like this for so long. Not because I’m worried about controversy or because I’m scared of someone in my life sparking up an ignorant debate (I’m always up for a debate), but because I wasn’t sure if this was a direction I wanted to push myself in. Even though I have little fear about sharing my opinions, a post like this requires a lot of honesty and vulnerability. It takes a lot to talk about my experiences. But recently, something pushed me well and truly over the edge and I found myself gravitating towards my laptop keyboard quicker than ever before.
Not to play on a stereotype, but I was never politically inclined until university. But a few months in, I’d somehow become crazily passionate and opinionated. Meeting people from different backgrounds, with different views and different lifestyles really made me think and somehow, it sparked a need for justice and activism in me.
You don’t need to look hard to appreciate how far the feminist movement has come in recent years. Fourth-wave feminism surfaced around 2012 and continues to grow, defined by the use of technology and social media. I now strongly identify as a feminist. I have the venus symbol proudly tattooed on my wrist. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many inspirational women both in real life and online and I am desperate to support and celebrate them.
And before you say it, I’m not going to burn my bra. But if you’re a man you’ve never had to wear one, and trust me, I’d happily burn all of them for comfort reasons.
Now here’s my issue and the reason I’ve decided to break my silence. Being a feminist, proudly stating that in public and calling men out on their shitty actions does me no favours whatsoever. It’s often a complete nightmare and I’m sick of it. Because what’s the word that gets tossed around the most when I voice my opinions? When I stand up for what I believe in? When I try and show my support for millennial female issues? Psycho. I get called a psycho. God, I hate the word. It is used far too liberally in dating and now it seems also overused to describe anyone who is passionate about something. Am I really a psycho for wanting to be paid the same wage as a man? Am I really a psycho for believing in girl power and the feminist movement?
And even if we are rapidly moving forward, you don’t need to go far to find someone with very opposite misogynistic views. The pub. A family gathering. A house party. In your class. I’ve often found myself surrounded by ‘anti-feminists’ who believe that women have nothing to moan about. That we’re all being dramatic. That we have nothing to do except cry about our periods and moan on Twitter. The thing that plays on my mind is this… What are these people loosing from any progress in gender equality? How can you blindly hate women for wanting respect?
Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to generalise. There are a handful of men in my life who understand and would call themselves feminists too because they recognise the obvious problems that women still face in today’s society. Men who I know would never be complicit. And for them I am so thankful. But I can’t ignore the obnoxious men who turn every mention of girl power, feminism and self-love into something to be joked about, insulted and torn apart. Gender equality is no joke.
If you’re still questioning feminism’s place in today’s society, just look at the headlines we’ve seen in the past few years. Saville. Trump. Weinstein. Kavanaugh. Abortion. Tampon tax. Rape culture. Consent. Upskirting. The pay gap. Mansplaining. HeForShe. MeToo. Free The Nipple. Times Up. And just this week – the 17 year old girl whose thong was used as evidence in her rape trial. It genuinely terrifies me. Should something awful happen to me in the future and I decide to go to court and testify, my choice of underwear may be discussed as evidence. Wearing a little black dress is not consent. Wearing a ‘slutty Halloween outfit’ is not consent. Wearing a thong is not consent!
So here we go, here’s the big bit. Yes, I’ve experienced sexual harassment. In fact, I’ve experienced it more than I care to admit. Have men inappropriately touched me? Yes. Have men verbally harassed me in public? Yes. From an angry, drunk man in a bar. To a sweaty, unwanted grope in a club. To a guy who crosses the line repeatedly in his teasing and brushes it off as ‘only joking’. The sad thing is, I can’t name one woman I know that hasn’t felt sexually harassed in some form or other. If not being okay with any of those experiences I’ve been through makes me a psycho – then so be it.
So, go ahead, call me a psycho. A psycho for caring. A psycho for wanting equality and respect. A psycho for calling out harassment when I see or experience it. A psycho for not wanting to be held back by my gender.
I’m not apologising for being a psycho anymore. I’m not going to hold back from calling crappy men out on their crappy behaviour. Feminism is so important to me. The fourth-wave feminist movement is one I’m so proud to be a part of. Nothing makes me prouder than supporting women through the feminist movement. It’s beautiful, it’s compassionate and its full of love and understanding. I’d rather care too much about equality than not at all.