Do you think that people should be judged for what’s between their ears rather than what’s between their legs? Yes? Well, congratulations, you’ve passed the test! You are a feminist.
Well, okay, maybe you don’t consider yourself a feminist. Why not? Feminism is not a dirty word. A lot of women and girls are not into describing themselves confidently as a feminist because it might appear somehow off-putting to others. But doesn’t that kind of attitude just show you how necessary feminism is? That it might be considered “off-putting” to say proudly that you believe that the content of your character is more important than the contents of your underpants?
My name is Fiona Hyde and I co-edit a magazine in Dublin called Siren. We run off the simple, clear premise that a more sex-equal Ireland would be a better Ireland. I want to see more women in boardrooms, more women in government, and more women taking ownership of their lives and bodies. I think that having more women around could only lead to a better world for everybody, because I think women are pretty smart, funny and great. More than anything, I just want to talk to people about the lack of women in public life, or how being a woman in this world is plain old more dangerous than being a man. Hey, we’re 51% of the world’s population – why don’t people talk about it more?
People can get used to anything, and if something becomes the norm, it becomes much more difficult to challenge. Why don’t people ever notice that the narrators of film trailers are always, always men? 88% of guests on shows like Mock the Week and Have I Got News For You? are men. Or did you know that 78% of newspaper articles in the UK are written by men? These small, important but almost invisible insults are the sort of things that build up to make a young girl feel her opinion is less significant than that of her boyfriend’s, or that she’s not as capable as her male friends of telling a joke. These things might seem trivial, but they build. For example, when children in the US are 7 years old, the number of boys and girls who say they want to grow up and be the President is roughly the same. By the time they’re 15, however, the amount of girls who say they would like to be President drops off dramatically compared to boys. Why do you think that is?
The first step to realising you are a feminist (and wanting to do something about it) is looking around, opening your eyes and starting to talk about the inequality that you see around you. Hey, don’t you still kind of want to be the President someday?
Source for newspaper/TV figures: The Guardian, Kita Cochrane, 2011. Source for Presidential figures: Miss Representation, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, 2011
Fiona Hyde co-edits Siren magazine, a gender equality focused publication and lives in Dublin, Ireland. She is passionate about feminism, equality and spends most of her time looking at pug dogs on the Internet.