“Feminism is just a phase!”

“Feminism is just a phase!”

Perhaps the saddest sentence I have heard since the words “Amy and Rory are being written out of Doctor Who” last September. But no, telling me that my feminism is simply a phase of my hope-filled, liberal, wide-eyed view of the world was pretty damn depressing too. I get that sometimes students tend to have more of a ‘radical’ mind-set on issues they wouldn’t normally have an opinion on because hey, they’re “proper grown-ups now” (we’re not, most of us still have the mental age of a 7 year old and give someone a bubble blower in the library and at several PhD students will look up from their science dissertations and positively squirm with childish joy still), but I digress. My point is that sometimes young people can get very intensely focussed on something they think is important right now, but in five years’ time they’ll think “Why did I join vegan society and wear shoes made of wheatgrass? Wow that was a weird phase” – but I don’t think we should ever (ever) use the words phase and feminism in the same sentence. (Unless of course you’re you know saying feminism is totally not a phase).

I’ll tell you a little about how I came to hear this saddening sentence the other day over the phone…

So my friend and I are sitting discussing various societies and I mention in passing “I’m surprised I’ve not heard of a feminist society, maybe I should start one”, when she turns around and tells me that it’d attract “all sorts of nutters” because they’re” going through the feminist stage of uni”.

I reply “stage? That’s a weird thing to say?”

“Well Feminism is just a phase isn’t it? I mean loads of girls do it, see something on the news, break up with a guy and suddenly they feel all empowered and they’re feminists for a couple of months until they realise Topshop vest tops don’t really cover hairy armpits.”

And you know what? Part of me deep deep down slightly agreed that some of that might even be true. I mean, gosh I’m not one of them. Nooooo way, I’ve been into it for like forever and I’ve found all these fantastic long sleeved t-shirts so it’s not even a problem – plus he was a loser anyway and well (in my defence) those Huffington post articles can be really convincing!! (Ok, ok – I’ll stop being ridiculous now) In all seriousness though, isn’t there a tiny bit of you that sometimes sees a girl who’s claiming she’s the new Betty Friedan or Germaine Greer but that inside voice tells you that actually she’s probably just confused Betty Friedan with Betty Crocker and feel like telling her that Germaine Greer isn’t a footballer’s wife? 

I’m going off topic, and I guess I’m contradicting myself a little too perhaps. Anyone who says they’re a feminist is brilliant in my books. They’ve realised that there’s something not right with the way the world treats women differently to men, judging half the world’s population just because of what’s downstairs. The “feminist phase” isn’t something I subscribe to, and sincerely promise never to look at my “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirt in ten years’ time and say “Wow I was uptight!” Maybe the ‘phase’ idea my friend has comes from the fact that sometimes young women can seem so very radical, but we tend not to hear as much in the media about everyday mothers calling themselves feminists (or men for that matter!).

So maybe I will start this feminist society. And maybe who cares if half the people that turn up quit after 2 sessions because they’re over that guy now? What really matters, what actually counts, is showing people like my friend on the phone that there are some of us that are in this for the long-haul. That there are some of us that care beyond the years we spend as young people in clubs who just don’t like getting our asses grabbed. I think only then can we show that feminism isn’t a “phase” for so many men and women alike.

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3 Comments

  1. Posted January 19, 2013 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    Start a feminist society and be sure that the first required reading before new members attend any events is Valetti’s “Full Frontal Feminism”. I’ll lay you good odds that you will have a turnover rate of less than one-percent because everyone will come in and realize that they WERE feminist all along — they just didn’t know it!

    • Posted January 19, 2013 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      Can I join? I’ve read that book!

      Wasn’t much impressed though. I found it badly written, badly argued, and rather puerile in the vocabulary.

      • Posted January 20, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink

        …Did we read the same book? When you say badly argued, are you referring to the facts she used to make her points, or just the language? Because that was another point — the double standard about women swearing versus men swearing.

        But, then again, I rarely care about how arguments are presented and just if the information is conveyed — that’s the German gal in me, I guess.

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