At this point we’ve all heard that dirty, dirty cyber word that makes the spines of Men’s Rights Activists recoil like vipers ready to strike.
The word synonymous with mammary-hammocks held up all a-flame.
That thing Taylor Swift and Beyonce both seem to have taken a liking too recently.
Yes, I am talking about that ever tide changing movement focussed on the notion of equality: Feminism!
But who is it for?
Just white middle class women? Nooo, that was addressed in black feminism.
Just for women who think sex with all men is rape? Nuh-huh. That ideal was sucker punched with the introduction of sex-positivity.
Just for straight cis-gendered women? Nope. Queer theory rugby tackled that concept.
And what about people (of all genders) with disabilities, varied economic status, racial or cultural ambiguity and practitioners of a multitude of faiths? In swings intersectional feminism on a rope wearing a cape.
Then who, the host asks, is feminism for?
And the crowd yells: Everybody!
But what does that mean? Yes, at the heart of feminism was the betterment of women’s social and political experiences but feminism has had a hand in making changes that have not just benefited women.
And we all know that feminism got women the right to vote, but what else has it done? No, really!
What repercussions have we, in the Western society, seen now that we live in a (kinda-sorta-not-really-but-for-the-sake-of-argument) feminist world?
As an applied performance practitioner and advocate for social change I’ve been thinking of what recent social action projects that I can examine through a feminist lens that we may have heard of, or been a part of. And by social action I mean projects and movements that have accelerated awareness of a particular community issue and have attempted to address and/or rectify that issue for the future.
Well I can’t say all ('cuz both you and l have lives we have to get back to) but I can make a list of 3 social action projects that were either created by feminists or that, because of feminism, have been able to exist in our current culture.
Disclaimer: I will try not to be Eurocentric, but I have only ever lived in the West. Try not to judge me for it.
1. Campaign: #EndTamponTax
Tell me why, in the UK, was there ever a 5% VAT on sanitary products? Okay, I get it David Cameron, it’s got something to do with the E.U, but I’m sure the other 26 countries think it’s just as much nonsense as I do (Ireland doesn’t have Tampon Tax, I asked it).
I guess in a weekly shop, 30p extra doesn’t sound like a lot, right? Well, research suggests that the average menstruator spends more than £18,450 on these products in their lifetime - which is one very expensive biological function.
So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise to anyone that so many protestors took to their pickets,(i)pads and Change.org petitions to speak out fiercely on this consumerist misconduct. So much so that in March of 2016 it was reported that Chancellor George Osborne has “hailed an agreement to loosen E.U rules on VAT levels”. And for that I say “Okay! Good! - But it should never have been considered a luxury to bleed in the first place.”
Additionally this is by no means an E.U exclusive topic, loads of other places in the world have started similar petitions due to similar taxes such as Australia, New York and California of the U.S, and Malaysia, where it is reported that “a similar petition prompted laughter in parliament”.
(Insert a stone face meme that prompts the world to do better).
2. Campaign: Homeless Period Project
In a quick conversation I was able to grab with one of the volunteers, I can confirm that Keeley Thorne, organiser of the Birmingham (UK) branch of this nation-wide project identifies as a feminist and this information made me irrationally happy. I try not to hang my happiness on other people’s ideologies because my momma told me that’s not a very smart thing to do - but I was happy because how could this not be a feminist project?
The project is focussed on ensuring menstruators who are homeless or in unstable living conditions have access to sanitary products. They do this through volunteer contribution and distribution of boxes, filled with period based necessities, to local shelters. This is because “the government has no funding to supply charities with sanitary products” even though it is quoted, 26% of people who access shelter services, are women.
*Insert meme of me graffiti-ing “Do Better” everywhere.*
But not only does Homeless Period Project aim to address this issue but they successfully identified it as an issue. Almost every time I bring up the Homeless Period Project in conversation people are always like “Hey - I never thought about that situation.” And you know why? Because we are fortunate enough to not have to, but feminist thought is all about, going “Hey, just because I’m fortunate enough not to have to think of a problem doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist”, and thankfully there are some people who carry that thought further and say; “It exists. I can do something about it. Let’s do something about it.” So here we are, acknowledging a campaign all about menstruators looking out for other menstruators.
Read more about it here.
If you find this interesting please don’t hesitate to contact them on Facebook and get involved.
3. Campaign #StayMadAbby
Though not necessarily created by feminism, it is off the back of intersectional theories critiquing the established pale/male/stale education system that universities have felt the pressure to not be so apparently exclusive with their intake. Now you and I both know that it should not have taken a theory to suggest accepting students on merit, as opposed to viewing education as a privilege exclusive to white people but, you know, humanity can be backwards sometimes. But thankfully people have addressed it.
Black Twitter has clapped back not only at Lil' Miss US Abigail Fisher who inspired this hashtag in 2015 after not being able to get into her university of choice (Uni. of Texas) and who, despite not having the required grades, blamed it on affirmative action (sure Abby, sure) but also at Judge Scalia who, when he was alive, suggested that “black students do better in ‘slower-track’ schools.”
Right. Well out of the grey cloud of ideological ridiculousness there is the silver lining in the form of a beautiful hashtag, that you can access at anytime which, unashamedly showcases success, celebration and achievement.
This doesn’t really conclude my list, because there are loads of international issues that feminism has addressed. These include but are not limited to: offering solidarity in the equal marriage laws, addressing divorce and custody court equality, redefining rape to include male abuse, speaking out on campus rape and slut shaming culture (with campaigns like Girls Against and Slut Walk Rallies), and of course not forgetting the multitude of projects around the continual struggle for international reproductive and body autonomy rights. Plus loads of others that you may know of that I’m completely ignorant to, so if you see that I’ve missed out any (and I totally know I have) then why not leave a comment below. I’m all about educating each other of the projects that hopefully, will be the building blocks to making our world a less patriarchal place.
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