Our generation needs to reclaim feminism

iWriters

Share

The writer is studying English Literature at Trinity College, Cambridge.

A few years ago, Germaine Greer appeared on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The feminist sat opposite the pop starlet Gabriella Cilmi, aged 17 at the time. "What do you think of feminism?," Simon Amstell asked Cilmi. Cilmi's response was to giggle, blush and say: "Er, I don't think people should say bad things about women? I don't know."

"It's like it was all pointless, isn't it?" said Amstell to Greer.

The problem is that my generation, like Cilmi, really don't know. Perhaps uniquely since the Pankhursts, we have grown up without any obvious feminist figurehead. Many of my peers take the view that, in the UK at least, women won the battle for equality long ago. Yet this is simply not the case. The attempt by MP Nadine Dorries to give abortion counselling to "independent providers" – i.e. pro-life companies – is just one recent example. Meanwhile, a leading sociologist, Catherine Hakim, in her poisonous book Honey Money, dismisses "Anglo-Saxon victim feminism". All this in a decade where the pay gap between men and women remains at 17 per cent, and my own university college is 70 per cent male.

It is inexplicable that so many, like Dame Judi Dench in a recent Guardian interview, declare themselves not to be feminists. The word has apparently been "tainted" by women who think they should be given "more rights than men" and like to hold bra burnings on Sunday afternoons. But the new post-feminism world is starting to look like the old chauvinist one. If you are a university-age male who has always allowed your mother to do the housework, telling a girl to "get back to the kitchen" is not ironic. Neither are pole-dancing classes, recently offered by a college at my university. Nor even are those recently-discontinued Topman T-shirts sporting such hilarious slogans as "Nice girlfriend, what breed is she?" Yet apparently, in a country where one in seven women has been coerced into sex, girls my age are supposed to see it all as a big joke.

Since so many view women's rights as no longer a problem, this trend for misogynist statements has increased alarmingly. It is not OK for our peers, or even the Prime Minister, to tell us to "calm down, dear". Feminism is, simply, the march for women towards equality. My generation needs to reclaim the label and end this tide of casual misogyny that masquerades as a joke.

So, what did you think of young writer Freya Berry's column? Let us know at i@independent.co.uk

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - Commercial Vehicles - OTE £40,000

£12000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer - Sheffield - £50,000

£40000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Senior PHP Developer position with a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Leader - Plasma Processing

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An Operations Leader is required to join a lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

i Editor's Letter: Most powerful woman in British politics

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
All the major parties are under pressure from sceptical voters to spell out their tax and spending plans  

Yet again, the economy is the battleground on which the election will be fought

Patrick Diamond
Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders