Casual sexism is making comebacks, not just coming back.

That antiquated 60’s mantra of  kitsch to the kitchen is so abhorred now that FEMINISM is a whole being on its own, not just a whispered idea at a women-only book club or afternoon tea ceremony.

Feminism is something that’s not so much grown legs as grown the ability to breathe fire and propel rockets out of its ass. We aren’t afraid to tell a man to get the *beep* off his lazy ass and get himself whatever he is asking for – only if it’s derogatory. Coz, you know, if you do happen to be in the kitchen already and he’s just asking for a coffee, to say no would be, you know… kind of bitchy.

Females in general are the fairer sex” but that doesn’t mean the “softer” sex. We have strength and ability, ambition and creativity – but that’s old news. No one wants to hear that about women. Where’s the new angle? Honestly, even the word “FEMINISM” to me is a little discriminative – we’re already a separate gender, do we really need another label to be further distanced from the so-called dominant males?

There shouldn’t have to be one, yet it’s an ever-evolving, never-ending subject. These cute ideas of what women should be like – being in the kitchen and making sandwiches and cakes all hours of the day and night – are changing too. Now, the idea of the perfect woman has changed. It involves big boobs, make-up and dependence on man to be saved from the bother of responsibility. You need only look at most action movies to see this. Exceptions to the rule are slowly on the increase, though they’ve been around for years. Unfortunately, most of them can only be found in literature – not the sort of male we’re likely to pick up.

My favourite book, for example, is The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman. For those of you who haven’t read it (why not?!), you may need some educating. Aside from it being the awe-inspiring concluding part of one of the greatest  trilogies ever penned (in my opinion), film watchers might be aware of the (extremely poorly-made) film adaptation of the first book, Northern Lights, aka. The Golden Compass.

The protagonist, Lyra, formed my idea of what a proper children’s book heroine should be. She was, what I considered to be, a perfect character and influenced my opinion on everything from religion to relationships to the evolution of people. What makes you take certain actions? How can an opinion change so drastically with the passage of time? How can the dreamland of a childhood playpen, safety net, the enclosed treasure chest of home, suddenly stop being so, and transform into an extension of a world of suspicion and fear, full of people who seek to exploit and who do not have your best interests at heart?

The answer was simple: because we grow up.

In my head, there are no questions as to whether it was her gender that instilled her with such strength and resilience. These were attributes and by-products of her other, sexless qualities: fair play, a non-judgmental, trusting view of the world through the childlike innocence of having a lack of knowledge of the gender divide. Her best friend was a boy. She abhorred “dressing up”. She was a tomboy of the most determined level. She personified a certain androgyny that made her so attractive to read about.

As time passed, Lyra grew to become a young woman. Her increasing femininity added to the robustness of her persona and added flesh to the embodiment Phillip Pullman was trying to convey –the importance of youth, and the equal importance of losing it. She was a hero despite gender, fighting alongside grown men and accompanied by a boy her own age. She was not only equal, she was respected. Her individual merits and unique talents were valued. A boy might admire the way she shunned her feminine ways. A girl might admire how she wore them while giving as good as she got.

It is characters like this that are becoming more common in literature and film. Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games being another recent example. She, to me, is like an older version of Lyra. A fighter, a motivator, an action-taker in the face of danger, who can still rock a skirt – if she so chooses to wear one. But, most of all, a protector and freedom fighter.

So as far as feminism goes, this is what I want to see more of. Not so much androgyny as equality; for women to be looked upon by everyone as whatever they want to be seen as, rather than just objects. If they exude strength, then treat them with respect. If they want to be nerdy, take an interest rather than scorn them.

We women have minds and we enjoy using them. Men should take note and deal.

Article by Gemma Clark


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