Tuesday, July 02, 2013

No longer kittens, but where are our claws?

Email forwards are gendered, I propose, in some areas of content. I find that women do not spend the majority of their time forwarding pornographic images to their female friends (unless you count nude sportsman calendars as pornographic), and I would presume that men do not spend the lion’s share of their time on their emails giggling at cute photos of kittens sporting sassy lines about liking their chocolate, coffee and men strong, rich and dark.

Lately there have been a spat of ‘Girlfriends and Sisters Week’ emails arriving in my inbox with wry salutes to the sisterhood of women, the tongue-in-cheek comments about discrimination and stereotypes treated with that special kind of humour that women use to blur the sharp edges of the inequalities we encounter in our society. Whether is it is a joke about body image, gynaecological matters, marriage, age, clothes or men, these emails use comedy to do what every minority political group uses comedy for, to get to the punch line first.

I don’t forward on soppy duckling-infested emails - I err to the side of forwarding on satirical and sarcastic emails - but saccharine sweet offerings of Disney characters giving you a hug and Anne Geddis babies dressed as rowboats spread across the internet on email lists that make me sit up and think ‘Now, if all those women on those forwarding lists felt like forwarding something a little more powerful, I wonder what would happen?’

There is a rule in polite society that one should not impose one’s politics or religion on those with which you have a social relationship; and I think most women try to forward on emails that are based on principles of care and love. They send funny emails, they send sweet emails and they send thank you emails. They send religious ones as messages of faith, political ones to stir sympathy and they send nude sportsman calendars to give hope.

I think that keeping religion and politics to a minimum is quite a good rule to follow when forwarding emails, or replying to mass emails. Thus, I hope that my next paragraphs are going to be any more political or religious than they are going to be about care, empathy and hope. I am going to talk about the pointy end of being a woman. The end that is, to make some rather off-colour puns, more about the punch than the punch line, more about dark acts than dark chocolate. I am going to talk about women dying every day because of politics, religion and the strange reluctance of freed women to wield the power that they have in their society.

Women are not equal to men in this world, not legally, not socially, not culturally, not economically, they are just not equal. Some women in the world are better treated and better educated, but that is about it when it comes to the political revolution of the Feminist moment. As my aunt, proud warrior of the fight for equality for women pointed out to me in horrified tones ‘What happened to the Feminists? Why don’t your generation care about the fight for real equality?’

When I sat down and thought about it I had to agree with her. The movement to obtain equality for women has become the Jocelyn Wildenstein of political revolution, changing the appearance of the problem rather than addressing the actual causes of inequality. The rights of women to their own bodies, their own minds and their own safety and destiny is the battleground for those who wished to free women centuries ago and today.

This is an excerpt from a never-published essay I wrote to avoid writing my Marxism essay in Historiography 2007. This essay was composed mere months before I joined Facebook and I have left in the quaint references to email forwarding lists to acknowledge just how long ago I first started really understanding my own natural inclination towards feminism.

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