I’ve never really noticed that I’m a woman.
That sounds as ridiculous to me as it does to you. But it’s true.
When I was about eight I got a short hair cut. A really cool sort of shaggy pixie cut that wouldn’t look out of place on the likes of JLaw or Michelle Williams. Basically I was a hair trend guru well before my time. Alas, my peers didn’t feel the same way. I was mocked, teased and told I couldn’t play with them because “I was a boy”. I guess you could say that the first sexism I ever experienced was for being too male. Go figure.
Despite this utterly traumatising experience, there has never been a moment in my life when I thought I couldn’t do something because of my gender. My parents filled me with notions of “if you want something – go get it, no matter what* it is, or who you are”. And that’s stuck. Even my current home-life is very unlike traditional stereotypes – I barely see the kitchen and I haven’t a clue where our iron is.
I know how lucky I am. I know that a lot of woman, most in fact, aren’t as lucky as me and have experienced plenty of backlash based on their gender. But even if I’m not as aware as others, inequality still affects me. According to the Office of National Statistics, women working full-time in Britain (that’s me – obvs) earn 17.8% less than their male counterparts. Do you know how many amazingly cool things I could buy with an extra 17.8% of my salary?
This t-shirt for one.
Spotted on some of the best torso’s of Hollywood, this Elle Magazine x Fawcett Society t-shirt (clutch, phone case or jumper) highlights the issue that is, unfortunately, getting worse – not better. The Global Gender annual report from the World Economic Forum clearly shows that the UK is going backwards in the equality stakes The report ranks countries based on four categories; economics (think wage equality) education (think girls attending school), health (think life expectancy) and political participation. Out of 142 countries Britain has slipped from 18th last year, to 26th today. And for some slightly more relatable (yet equally as gross) facts, some of the most popular online searches related to women include ‘women shouldn’t have rights’, ‘women need to be put in their place’ and ‘women should stay at home.’ Why not try typing ‘women shouldn’t…’ into Google’s search field and have a gander yourself.
Thanks in part to everyones favourite Harry Potter star (and shaggy pixie cut enthusiast also), Emma Watson, and her prolific UN speech earlier this year, the word feminist is gathering a lot of buzz. In fact, it’s hurtling dangerously towards over use. But, I think this movement by Elle is exactly what the feminist campaign needs. Despite all the promotion of the word, when you picture a feminist, most people create a sort of aggressive, excessively hairy, man-hating woman in their minds. Usually wielding a picket sign and a bad attitude. But feminism is not an extreme notion. Feminism isn’t about hating on men, men are freakin’ awesome. But so are woman. (And that’s the point).
The Oxford dictionary defines it as ‘the advocacy of women’s rights on the ground of the equality of the sexes’ – which seems like a pretty simple thing to want.
I want that. (And I don’t have particularly hairy armpits).
The boy wants that. (Although he does have hairy armpits).
This rather dashing t-shirt (that you can pick up from Whistles here) proves that a feminist can look like anyone and probably is a lot more people than you realise. Because most people do want the same amount of love, respect and opportunity for their mothers, sister and daughters as their fathers, brothers and sons get.
All the proceeds of sales of these tops go to the Fawcett Society to aid in their fight for equality. To help them to prove that feminism isn’t a harsh word or an aggressive idea. It is a very real goal that we can be a part of achieving. That we should be a part of achieving.
So, I guess what I am saying (in a very long winded way) is, I am what a feminist looks like.
And also, that this t-shirt is more that just a darn cool fashion statement.
It’s darn cool statement statement too.
*Unless it is something that they disagree with, then the rule is “you better have a kick ass argument as to why you want to that”.