Feminism. A word that conjures up images of women burning their bras. A word that sends men running for the hills. A word that seems to make modern women shudder.
According to a recent Netmums survey only 1 in 7 considers themselves a feminist. As Britain’s largest women’s website it is shocking to hear that women consider the term ‘feminist’ a negative label for women. And to top it all off, 1 in 5 said feminism was no longer relevant to today’s society.
Well, ladies, I’ve got news for you.
Feminism is no longer about burning your bra and being overly aggressive towards men. Feminism is about equal rights, human rights for women in all areas of life. And yes, unfortunately, it is still as relevant today as it was 100 years ago.Women may consider men equal. But do men consider women equal? Does society consider women equal? You only have to look at recent surveys, campaigns and media to see very real examples of how women are considered in society today.
The White Ribbon Campaign (WRC), is the UK branch of the global campaign to ensure men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. It highlights the following facts and statistics on violence against women.
- 45% of women have experienced some form of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
- Around 21% of girls, experience some form of child sexual abuse.
- At least 80,000 women suffer rape every year.
- In a survey for Amnesty International, over 1 in 4 respondents thought a woman was partially or totally responsible for being raped if she was wearing sexy or revealing clothing, and more than 1 in 5 held the same view if a woman had many sexual partners.
- On average, two women a week in England and Wales are killed by a violent partner or ex-partner. This constitutes nearly 40% of all female homicide victims.
- 70% of incidents of domestic violence result in injury, (compared with 50% of incidents of acquaintance violence, 48% of stranger violence and 29% of mugging).
- Around 85% of forced marriage victims are women
Imagine if your daughter fell within these victim statistics. Or your son was a perpetrator.
According to Women’s Aid, the vast majority of domestic abuse victims are women and children. So, women of Netmums, do you really want your children growing up thinking it is ok to be physically or sexually abused by a man, to be emotionally or financially abused by a man? Do you really think it is acceptable for a female to feel unable to report abuse because ‘she’s a woman and no one will believe her’? As a mother, I would hope the answer is a very loud and resounding ‘no’.
In recent weeks, many women have come forward alleging historical abuse by Jimmy Savile, yet no one believed these women, or considered it serious, when the abuse was happening. Savile afterall was a man, a famous man and a man with fortune. Who would believe the word of a woman against the word of someone like him? Who’d believe the word of a vulnerable young girl against the word of someone like him? Well, it appears no one did believe them, and any suspicions and rumours were not considered worth acting on.
Now, Savile’s not here to answer the allegations or to be held accountable. Many of the girls and women alleging this abuse were too afraid to speak out when he was alive. And fear remains a problem today. Women are too often afraid of what society will think and how it will judge them. We have to educate our children and society that women have equal human rights to men. We have to empower them. If we don’t educate our children how will society change?
With the introduction of Clare’s Law, we can hope women will feel empowered to make an informed decision about leaving an abusive relationship. We can hope Clare’s Law will make abusive men realise their past will no longer remain a secret. We can hope that women will have the courage to do something about the information they receive. We can hope that when they do, society will listen.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I know men can be victims of abuse too. I don’t deny that and it is no more acceptable. But this is about mothers thinking women are treated equally in society today, when clearly we are not.
So ladies, mothers, – feminism is most definitely still relevant today. Please don’t think it isn’t or teach your children it isn’t. By not being a feminist mother you fail in the most basic role of mothering – to protect. Feminists will say ‘women can have it all’. Nothing more, nothing less. Empower your children for a brighter, safer future – a better world. This is the ‘all’ feminists really want. And as a mother, I’m sure it’s ‘all’ you want for your children too.
Perhaps you are a feminist afterall.