Welcome, to my 100th post on Ms ZiYou – a blog about money and feminism. Can you believe it? I know I certainly cannot believe that I have been writing for nine months now and have reached the milestone of 100 posts.
What should post #100 be?
I thought it should be a decent meaty post, but on what topic? What better than to ask people what they’d like me to write about? Hence a quick twitter poll was constructed and sent out into the ether.
I need your help. It's my 100th post next Saturday. What should I write?
— Ms ZiYou (@ms_ziyou) October 6, 2018
And by a narrow margin here we have Feminism 101 – my guide to what feminism is.
PS: Don’t worry if you voted for another option – my anti monetisation manifesto and MVP for podcasting are still coming in the next few weeks.
Lately, I’ve seen a lot of misconceptions about feminism flying around.
So what better than a post on feminism 101 to put the world to rights?
What is feminism?
The belief that women and men are truly equal, and should be treated as such in all parts of society.
What feminism is not
There are many, many false belief about feminist going around. As a quick round-up of myths – feminists are not:
- Assuming women are superior to men – we want equality, not a privileged position
- Man-hating – in fact, many of us actually quite like men
- About violent revolution – we want peaceful change
- Lesbians – as the group most disadvantaged by the patriarchy, lots of lesbians are feminists but not all feminists are lesbians
- Bra-burning – some of us quite appreciate the engineering support and keep them on
- Women only – lots of men also believe in equality
If you are still on the fence, try this Forbes article: What Is Feminism, And Why Do So Many Women And Men Hate It?
Or Mark Manson’s What’s the problem with feminism?
Types of feminism
There are many different kinds or types of feminism people fall into.
As with everything in life, you are free to pick and mix as you like – you may fit perfectly into one category, or share some beliefs from each one.
If you want to read more about the types of feminism, here are some resources
Conservative feminists believe women are equal to men and women can achieve anything they want.
They are happy with the male norm of society, and happily change themselves to fit into the male centred world. Importantly, conservative feminists believe that woman can push through by adopting male behaviours and values.
This type of feminism does not believe in supporting other women – they strongly believe that one has to excel individually to succeed. And conservative feminists may be anti-choice.
The perfect example here is Maggie. She didn’t feel being female should thwart her ambition, and you get the impression she believed females could do anything they wanted to. Yet she took voice coaching to make her voice match the more common male tones. Moreover, she never took any actions to bring up other women, and her cabinet was a male as her predecessors. And it looks like Theresa May is following her idol.
Liberal Feminists believe women are equal to men and that an individual approach is how we get equality. They want to change and evolve society to make it fairer. Add more laws and policies to promote equality. Liberal feminists believe that the patriarchy is oppressing women and that many changes are needed for equality.
Initiatives such as increasing education levels and employment prospects are readily supported. And liberal feminists care a lot about the gender pay gap and promoting more and more women into positions of power and influence.
In addition, liberal feminists are pro-choice and believe women always have the right to control their own bodies. They believe women should have personal freedoms and be able to make choices the same as men.
There are many, many famous liberal feminists. Including literary heavyweights such as Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill and Betty Friedan.
Radical Feminists believe women are equal to men, but that we need a radical change and dismantling of society to achieve this. In addition, they believe that most aspects of society are structured to benefit men and maintain the male privileged position at all cost.
They believe in revolution, that the patriarchy and the kyriarchy need to be radically changed rather than a gradual evolution. There is a common belief that step changes are not good enough, and we need a wholesale progressive change to all of society.
Moreover, radical feminists are strongly against the objectification of the female body. They are vehemently anti-prostitution and lap dancing and believe prostitution and associated industries should to be abolished. They take a similar zero-tolerance approach to pornography.
Following on from objectification, they are extremely pro-choice and believe women should be free to choose what to do with their own bodies, and medical procedures should not be legislated on by politicians.
Some notable radical feminists are Andrea Dworkin and Gloria Steinem.
Being a woman in 2018
As you may know, I love listening to podcasts. But just this week I’ve heard two podcasts that have really impacted me. One in bad ways that got me motivated to step up my feminist campaigning and another one gave me hope.
On a creative podcast that will not be named (mainly as I forgot it and don’t want to search). Two men have the following conversation. They record it. And publish in on their podcast in 2018. And think this is ok?
The exchange goes as follows.
- Dude1: A mother wearing a mini skirt – that is an awful mother.
- Dude2: I agree, what a terrible mother.
It’s shocking how we still judge women about how they dress. And then how we level it up by subjecting mothers to an even higher level of scrutiny and criticism. Can someone tell me what impact it has on their ability to parent? Absolutely none.
Ladies, mothers especially, should be free to dress how they like. Wear what makes you feel good. Or go for comfort. Or dress to shock. Wear those tattoos proudly. Be yourself and be happy.
Cause, image the uproar if we started saying things like:
- Gal1: A father wearing a slim fit suit – that is an awful father.
- Gal2: I agree, what a terrible father.
Awesome role models
However, luckily this was balanced out by a business podcast surprisingly. This weeks freakanomics podcast features a Brazillian diplomat who is the head of the WTO. This dude was cool in so many ways.
He has an awesome understanding of international trade and a very open and candid demeanour which made him a great interviewee. However, what made him so amazing is he clearly believes in equality – he only fell into diplomatic work to support his wife’s career.
Living an everyday life while being female can be hard. Women are subject to an ongoing onslaught of sexism, harassment and misogyny. Most of this is badged as harmless, but you know what? It isn’t harmless, and it does get to you.
The wear you down approach of casual sexism is best explained by Jo Brand in this clip here:
This is not a niche one-off occurrence, most women face this behaviour every single day, simply for existing in this world. And if you want to read many more examples of what females face every single day, I highly recommend you head over to the everyday sexism project.
Women’s Fear of Men’s Violence
Moving on from the casual everyday sexism that wears women down is one of the causes of women’s fear. Violence against women.
And this is no laughing matter. In the UK one woman is killed by domestic abuse every three days.
One woman every three days. Can you imagine those numbers?
That is a lot of women being murdered. A lot of men feeling entitled to murder women. And these are only those that are killed, not those who thankfully escaped.
“Nine in 10 women killed in 2016 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland died at the hands of someone they knew, according to the annual Femicide report by Women’s Aid. Of these, 78 women were killed by their current or former intimate partner, three by their sons and five by another male family member. Nine were killed by a stranger.”
So from those stats alone, I hope you can see that women’s fear is justified. I also want to point you to the absolutely excellent Bitches Get Riches post on Men’s Violence: One Reason Women Make Less Money? They’re Afraid of Being Raped and Killed.
Women – not men – are asked to modify their behaviour by the police
And recently, there has been a string of sexual assaults in London. The victims always fall into the female category here, and the perpetrators the male category. However, the police continue to blame victims and suggest that women should modify their behaviour.
But here’s a thought – women are the majority of the population. How about men modify their behaviour, and we don’t let men out in case they are a sexual predator? That way we’d inconvenience fewer people, and the category of people who fall in the perpetrators are inconvenienced.
The Guardian also explores this concept in the article: Imagine if men were afraid to walk home alone at night.
JUST ONCE I would love to see: “Men warned not to attack women.” https://t.co/QwwC9qWGNn
— Sophie Walker (@SophieRunning) October 10, 2018
Women are afraid
And to drive the point home, women are really afraid. A social researcher asked people what they do on a daily basis to avoid being assaulted and the results showed a definite gender bias. Guess which side is the female responses and which side the male?
Jackson Katz, a social researcher, asked men what they do on a daily basis to avoid being sexually assaulted. Then he asked women. pic.twitter.com/GjniLR4iIZ
— Jennifer Wright (@JenAshleyWright) September 30, 2018
Women’s Bodies Being Objectified
And on top of the fear of violence, women’s bodies are objectified and sold. Prostitution commoditises women’s bodies and reduces women to being objects. Not to mention that mainly men profit out of the commodification.
Every day around the world women receive comments and criticism of their appearance; from comments in the street to trashy media such as the Daily Mail’s sidebar of shame.
And even in the personal finance world, I have lost count of the number of blogs that have posts that make reference to buying women’s bodies for sex and men’s pleasure.
Yet we don’t treat men’s bodies as objects to be used and sold.
Violence against women, street harassment, everyday sexism, victim blaming.
And how does all this continue even in 2018?
Enter The Patriarchy.
This is a system that ensures society is set up to benefit men. Established so men can rise to the top with a frictionless path. It’s a society that is structured around men and their needs. And everything is designed for them.
From seat belts to mobile phones to workwear, our modern everyday life is designed for men and their bodies.
The Gender Pay Gap
Nowhere is the patriarchy more evident than in the gender pay gap – 8 in 10 UK companies pay women less.
This for a myriad of complex reasons, from the simpler barriers women face making it up the corporate ladder to the more subtle pink collar work where we value traditional women’s work less than men’s work. And then we have the patriarchal societal impacts on parenthood – where fathers and mothers are treated very differently.
I applaud the government for getting these results out, and for adding in ethnicity as well shortly. Starting the conversations and monitoring is definitely a step in the right direction, but much more progress is needed.
The Imbalance of Power
We have more Daves and Steves leading FTSE 100 companies than women or people from ethnic minorities. Top positions in big business are dominated by white males.
Source: The Independent.
And don’t let the female Prime Minister fool you. Our political system as well is also dominated by white men – 52 out of 650 total MPs are from an ethnic minority and only 208 are women. The cabinet is staffed by a majority of white men.
Source: The BBC.
I could go on and get more statistics and they’ll show similar trends. White men dominate the powerful positions in the UK. We are making progress towards a more equal representation, but it is very slow.
What can we do?
I strongly believe we need to challenge all those we believe the world is fair. A lot of people just don’t realise the challenges and barriers that women face in the world. And by ensuring the feminist message gets out there, we can start to nudge people.
They may be closed minded now, but by educating and informing, we can start the gradual process of change and get people ready to embrace a new more equal society.
Personally, I volunteer in Women’s organisations, and I’ve also started my #financialfeminist series here, amplifying the voices of people who identify as feminists in the personal finance world.
Embrace the idea of kyriarchy
Moreover, it’s not just sexism that keeps those in power in power forever. There are many systems of oppression, from sex, race, class to sexual orientation and many more.
By being truly intersectional we then understand people can face many oppressional forces. And we need to embrace the kyriarchy in our feminism, to make sure that we make the world and equal place for all people. That means dismantling all barriers they face, not just those due to their sex.
I am not an expert – I truly have much more to learn. But I do strongly believe that women are equal to men, and society needs to adapt to support that. And as Malala said:
We cannot all succeed when half of us are held back.
- Let men be free from the shackles
- Is your language sexist?
- The Beauty Tax
- 100 years since some women got the vote in the UK
Over to you
- What are your thoughts?
- Do you identify as a feminist?
- Do you believe in the patriarchy?
- Have you embraced the kyriarchy?