It's 2015, yet another generation of young women finds itself still campaigning for equal rights for women. I Call Myself a Feminist brings together the thoughts of 25 women under 30 on the battles still being fought.
Here three of the book's editors, Alice Stride, Martha Mosse and Amy Annette, share ten of the ideas put forward by contributors that they hope will resonate with readers as much as they did with them.
We knew when we began the process of working together as a trio co-editing I Call Myself A Feminist, alongside the editors Victoria Pepe and Rachel Holmes, that we were lucky to have the chance to represent the many varied, interesting and powerful voices of women under 30 years of age.
We knew that we’d enjoy reading our contributors' essays, we knew we’d be proud to be associated with the platforming of these brilliant women, we knew that there was a thirst out there for these voices to be heard, but what we didn’t know was how personally inspired and changed we three would be by these essays.
We didn’t guess that we three would come away feeling so inspired, sobered and comforted. We didn’t foresee that we’d come away from this collection having personally learned some life-changing lessons.
We wanted to share them here so that you too can experience the wisdom and words, directly from the essays in the book, of these women who call themselves feminists.
1: That being ‘Good for a girl’ is not a compliment
'Good for a girl' is so often offered as a compliment, yet it is in fact a free pass to failure and mediocrity. Good for a girl gets us the validation we’re told to seek, so why try harder?... Call it competitiveness or bravado, or perhaps societal pressure, but for men, ineptitude is rarely linked to gender.... At school, the idea that we’re ‘good for girls’ is injurious to both our success and our self-esteem, and if unchallenged, it continues into and negatively impacts our careers.
From 'Good for A Girl Isn’t Good Enough' by Hajar Wright
2: That today’s teenage feminists are already more enlightened and wise than we were at their age
I believe that female friendship, female voices and support are fundamental to our power as women. The international sisterhood is a strong force.
From 'Goodbye to Good Girls' by Phoebe Hamilton-Jones
3. That, at its core, intersectionality is about cooperation
Intersectionality entails working considerately with other women who have different experiences from your own and recognizing the ways in which we might benefit from a system that disproportionately advantages some people over others.
From 'Manifesto for Feminist Intersectionality' by Jinan Younis
4: That, like Bridget’s Mr Darcy, feminism accepts everyone. Just as they are
Femininity, femin-ism, does not expect I smooth my edges or shrink to fit in its box. I call myself a feminist even though I don’t know quite what feminism is. I find it as hard to define, in truth, as I find myself. And, my God, that is some sublime sort of comfort. I might not be able to write its definition in the dictionary, but I know what me feels like.
From 'The Difficult, Undateable Dating Columnist' by Caroline Kent
5: That women should have the privilege to be rubbish too
It’s lovely that people have faith in women’s abilities... but ‘unused potential’ is not actually the point. We should have the opportunity to fulfil our potential because it’s just morally, politically and humanly right.
From 'Women Should Get to be Rubbish Too' by Isabel Adomakoh Young
6: That we must not take what freedoms we enjoy for granted
I live in two societies: one is the Kurdish and the other is the English.
Belief in the social, economic and political rights of women was taught by English society and that is how I became a feminist....
Especially as we encounter other oppressions.
But here, in England, I have also been introduced commercial media always telling girls that they are not good enough. That they should lose weight day in and day out, that they should compete with their own sex to look better and better. Not to use their brains but their bodies, not to use their pens but to use their lipliners.
From 'Why I Call Myself a Feminist' by Meltem Avcil
7: What Men Can Do to Support Feminism
Can the feminist man respect that a woman might resist being sexually objectified when the act of objectification takes place without her own sexual agency? Is the feminist man taking up women’s space to show his dedication to the cause, or is he using his influence to change his own social spheres in order to make them more feminist? Is he asking the difficult questions about gender disparities in the workplace, or challenging sexist attitudes in his friendship group? That’s the hard, socially precarious work, but feminist women do it every day, fully aware of the reprecussions. ”
From 'What Can Men Do to Support Feminism?' by Reni Eddo-Lodge
8: That we need to talk more about abuse. More honestly, more angrily, more openly, just, more
I heard stories about paedophile rings, ritual abuse in cults and religious groups, psychological and sexual abuse that made my skin crawl, violent gang rapes, near-death experiences at the hands of partners, and I began to truly realize that this stuff isn’t just what happens in media storms and horror films, it had happened to the woman I was sitting next to.
So we can recognise if it is happening to us.
If I was talking to someone else about similar experiences, maybe I would use words such as ‘rape’, ‘sexual violence’ or ‘coercion’, but when it comes to me I move positions and shift responsibility from myself to the other as I alternate in outward anger or inward self-blame.
From 'Staring at the Ceiling: It’s Not Always as Simple as Yes or No' by Abigail Matson-Phippard
9: That we are rarely given the option of just being ourselves
In the summer 2014 Miss Vogue... ran a flow quiz about body hair that opened with the question: ‘Are you a stripper or a shaver?’... What was so alarming about this quiz was that Miss Vogue somehow failed to include the option to leave your body hair untouched because it’s fine/you might be a child/you are beautiful exactly as you are.
From 'Are you a Stripper or a Shaver?' by Bertie Brandes
10: That there’s a reason we call ourselves feminists
I call myself a feminist because it is not a scary word. What’s scary is the fact that one in three women on the planet will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. What’s scary is the world of inequality that feminism exists to fix.
From 'Connections are Everything' by Laura Bates
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