The sun has got hir hat on, hip hip hip hooray!

May 5, 2008

I’d like to start a new thread, based on a couple of comments in response to my post below, in which I said, jokingly, that I was putting on my ‘humourless trans feminist’ hat to write it.

Amongst the responses, two people made the same point:

Marlow said […] I’m in high school and friends of mine have made stupid comments about it but I’ve learnt that it’s best to keep quiet about certain things now or face the ‘Erin’s put on her ‘feminist’ cap again, let’s talk about something else’ attitude. […]

And Sara Helen added: […] Going completely off topic, I’m glad I’m not the only one with a ‘feminist cap’! That’s something which really annoys me – just because it’s an issue people (my friends) know I care about, somehow makes it less legitimate, and makes my opinion worthless. Eh? Even if someone else has brought something to do with gender issues/feminism up, and I start “talking feminism”, it somehow gives them an excuse to tune out completely. I’d like to think that I’m getting through to people and making them at least think about what they say, but how can I – or anyone – when we just get ignored?
I would guess that this is not an unusual phenomenon, what are other people’s experiences? […]

I, too, have come across this attitude; the latest example was just a couple of days ago. I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for a while and was explaining about being a guest blogger here at TFW, and when asked what that was, I replied that it’s a ‘feminist webzine’. At which, the other person groaned and rolled their eyes before giving me a sheepish grin. The way I see it, a lot of people think that subjects like feminism are, for some reason, just too ‘difficult’, or ‘complicated’, or ’serious’ to discuss. It’s not a ‘fun’ topic, it requires that you apply a little thought and it seems that a lot of people are simply too preoccupied with just ‘getting through the day’ to bother.

Whilst I can empathise with that view – I’m sure we all can – I also think that feminism is such a big part of life that you really can’t shrug it off and hope it’ll go away. I’ve said this before but it bears repeating: the brain comes free with the body, so why not use it?

Perhaps if more people thought about, and discussed, matters which are too often dismissed (wrongly, in my opinion) as being the preserve of ‘humourless feminists’, well, maybe the significance of things like inequality, oppression and so on would be more clearly understood.

In turn, that raised awareness might help us, as a society, move towards the situation where these matters are recognised as affecting all of us – and maybe then unhelpful labels like ‘humourless feminist’ would stop being used. And who knows, maybe on that perfect day, even Graham Norton would understand why making ‘jokes’ about oppressed minorities isn’t funny. Now that really would make me smile…

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Posted at The F Word on 27 April 2008

©2008 Helen G

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