I’m a part of Emma Watson’s Our Shared Shelf on Goodreads. I don’t actively participate, but I got involved when Caitlin Moran’s memoir ‘How to be a Woman‘ was selected for book of the month.
Initially I wasn’t drawn to Moran, I found her a bit too brash. I also didn’t like her views on how women were portrayed in history, which I found surprisingly assumptious for a published writer. She said, and I quote, “For even the most ardent feminist historian, male or female – citing Amazons and tribal matriarchies and Cleopatra – can’t conceal that women have basically done fuck all for the last 100,000 years. Come on – let’s admit it. Let’s stop exhaustingly pretending that there is a parallel history of women being victorious and creative, on an equal with men, that’s just been comprehensively covered up by The Man. There isn’t. Our empires, armies, cities, artworks, philosophers, philanthropists, inventors, scientists, astronauts, explorers, politicians and icons could all fit, comfortably, into one of the private karaoke booths in SingStar. We have no Mozart; no Einstein; no Galileo; no Gandhi. No Beatles, no Churchill, no Hawking, no Columbus. It just didn’t happen“.
Many people on the OSS forum thought it might have just been her sense of humour, but most of us (quite confused and frustrated) went on to challenge this; making a point that most women weren’t given the opportunity to learn and make a difference, or had male superiors take credit for their work and achievements. But I softened after watching the clip below. This clip comes from an extended interview between Watson and Moran discussing issues raised in her book (these two make good discussion TV). What Moran says does not only support the views I already had, but she also acknowledges that she wasn’t enlightened when she wrote the book five years previously (a feminist who admits faults, how refreshing) and that school had never taught her why women were absent in history. I really encourage you to watch the following clip(s) discussing this.
“You make a point why women didn’t play a role in human history. How did you come to these conclusions, how did they enlighten you?”
(I’m super excited to source The Ascent of Women by Dr Amanda Foreman. I don’t have netflix, but I will no doubt read up about it if I can!)
I also found one aspect they talk about in the video very interesting. Possibly, at some point in history, men and women were equal. And in ancient times when laws were being constructed, men made specific laws that defined women as inferior. This is such an interesting aspect of our history – I agree – why aren’t we taught it specifically in schools?
“What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the feminist movement in 2016? For people who really want to DO something, beyond reading, what are some of the concrete thing, direct action, that can be taken to fight for real change?”
Moran is aware that a big criticism around feminism is FEMINISTS. Lena Dunham is attacked for not including women of colour in her hit show ‘Girls’. Beyonce is criticised for promoting empowerment but then naming her World Tour the ‘Mrs Carter Show’. Hillary Clinton is attacked for not thinking of women enough. Do you notice there is a trend where women just can’t get it right? That whether a girl is a feminist or not, she will be criticised for every mistake, despite the achievements she makes for the movement? We can’t sit around waiting for a Feminist Jesus who is completely flawless, who can speak for all women, because it will never happen.
The clip is full of interesting points, so I’ve summarised some of them below. Worth a read if you don’t have time for the whole video.
- 10 years ago Feminism was almost taboo to talk about. Today, the tone is so heated, feminist wars are a regular occurence. Twitter dictation, for example, provokes fight vs flight, which leads to responding in fear and anger. These create wars between people who should be on the same side! It needs to be calmed down.
- We need to allow women the weakness to argue and fight like men would. Equality is not the picture of a woman who is perfect. Feminists, like anyone else, want to make the world a better place but still be free to be human, change their mind, say things from a flawed and specific perspective that only speak for a percentage of women. (Again… you can’t be waiting around for that Feminist Jesus), so, with this in consideration, everyone can bring their own experiences to the table, but don’t expect them to speak for all people.
- The Feminism movement should work like a quilt, where everyone pieces their squares and experiences together, and they are linked – but not individually, necessarily able to cover every woman’s life experience. (THIS IS AWESOME)
- Like I mentioned earlier in this post, Moran says you can disagree with another feminist, but you can still appreciate the contributions she makes. These people have given you the platforms and words for you today – and just because they’re not on social media, or they are a bit dated, doesn’t make them irrelevant. You need to have your ‘tribal elders’ who have gone through these experiences before. Have the strength to realise your heroes are flawed.
I do think there is a Feminist Jesus though, it seems so obvious.
She is flawless.
Until next time, folks.