I went to get a tattoo yesterday. The word “FEMINIST” as such tattooed on the outside and inside of my upper left wrist. The calligraphy is very narrow with capital letters in Arial block, the likes of the font Beyoncé used. The tattooist told me it might be an issue because the letters were so closed to each other, like bar code, and in 5/10 years time when the skin is anew, I will having nothing but a black block.
So he showed me some fancy calligraphy and although I liked the shapes and curves, it looked wrong: cute, soft, tender, like the shapes were hiding the word itself which could barely be read. I wanted it to be a statement: clear, blunt, easy to read, something that would not be talked about because it was pretty but because of what it means so we went for very thin, stick letters. I love it: it’s small, discreet, minimalist, not at all ostentatious but powerful and direct. And he actually did like it as well. He said: “You were right, it’s much better like that, it’s a punch. It fits the word perfectly because it’s a violent, radical word anyway.”
I will come back on feminism, it’s perception, it’s meaning for me later for this is a belief that has been shaping my life as a child and now a man who realised a couple of days ago that I have never, ever, EVER played video games with a male character, I always play with girls.
I want to write what I said to him here, as I quoted Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie first. I said:
“Feminism is not more or less violent that anything else. A feminist is just someone who believes that men and women should be socially, politically and economically equal. For example, some job, same pay. That’s it, nothing else. Doesn’t seem very radical to me, does it? It’s the same for a religious person who is someone who believes in God. Then you have some adorable, tolerant, kind, open-minded Christians whose religion has allowed to be happy with themselves and others, they never force anyone to believe what they believe and just want a world to be a better, fairer place, not just for them but for everyone. Then you have fundamentalists who say gay people should be stoned to death, lobby governments and bully countries into not just think the same as they do but apply a reign of terror and destruction to anyone who thinks differently. It’s the same for feminism. You will people like me who want the world to be better place, and not just for myself, through the power of education. Then you will also have feminists who lost faith in men and think we should force them into their beliefs. There are bad people everywhere, it’s not a excuse to put everyone in the same bucket. Not all tattooists are junkies.”
He agreed and told me he never saw it that way. The guy is a very nice guy and we really connected yesterday but as a man whose life has never been affected by the hindrances of inherent sexism, he bought into the image feminism has across the board: ‘The feminists are nothing more than angry women who want to get revenge on men and castrate them all”.
My point is: saying that feminism is a violent word because some feminists are indeed very radical (which is why the press likes to put the spotlight on them) is exactly the same as saying that Christians are all intolerant, Muslims are all jihadists, people with tattoos are all crack-heads, left-wing people are all childish utopians and right-wing people are all selfish bastards.
It’s demeaning and cheap. It’s a stereotype that is not made to be funny but to downgrade someone and their beliefs so not to take them seriously, to justify some kind of violence and exclusion towards them. It’s narrowing the definition, the struggle, the inspirational fight of millions of women to a couple of undermining, humiliating and slandering traits (I will list below). I heard people saying that Emma Watson, Beyoncé, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie were not feminists, they were “normal women”, they wear high heels, they are beautiful (whatever that means) and married or in a relationship with a man. Even some feminists say such thing about them: these feminists are indeed radical because they still oppose men and women and have this Marxist idea that men should be submitted in order to understand what women are going through and accept repentance.
“Normal women” are not “feminists” then because feminism had to be brutal to be noticed at first and today, its detractors still enjoy spreading the same ideas about feminists to people who believe them because it’s everywhere.
Personally, saying that feminism is violent and radical is like saying that anti-racism is violent and radical. When in fact, racism and sexism are violent and radical. Any kind of belief that categorises, ranks and isolates the value and humanity of people according to their gender, colour, place of birth, language, abilities, ancestors, physical appearance, all aspect of their identity they have not chosen…All these segregationist beliefs are radical and extreme so their counterparts should be the norm.
I long for the day, “feminist” is not a word to isolate people from the rest of the population. In the meantime, it’s still an insult in the mouth of most, like my gayness so yesterday I decided to make a statement for life and wear that insult proudly on my wrist for everyone to see.
Things me and my 1980s-born generation have grown up with when it comes feminists:
They hate men.
They hate religion.
They hate sex.
They are sexually frustrated.
They are feminists because they are unhappy as they can’t find a husband.They hate make-up.
They hate bras.
They hate make-up.
They are lorry drivers and bus drivers.
They look ugly on purpose.
They are lesbians.
They chose to become lesbians.
They are racists, anti-Semites and anarchical atheists.
They are imperialists – want to impose a Western model to all societies.
They abort when they are pregnant with boys.
They forbid their daughters to date boys.
They never wear nice clothes and high heels.
They have short hair.
They pee standing up.
They force their sons to sit down to pee.