… and why that’s ok.
Today, Amanda Palmer reblogged and comment on her Tumblr about a particularly hateful website. While some woman cried that the men who contribute to these sorts of woman-shaming websites should be shot and castrated, she argued no. “they should be smothered in fucking love and compassion.” She states, “possibly the only way they’ll ever snap out of it.” Although it took me a moment to settle down and stop raging, I do now fully support and agree with her statement. The only way to deal with such people is to smother them with love. Because if we turn around and hate on them for it, we are just being as bad as them. And I do not support the censorship of anything – I am all for the freedom of speech. We can only do our best to show people that they are perhaps misguided. And this cannot be done through hate.
I try to avoid these sort of posts. But occasionally I’ll stumble upon something in my world and the rage is unleashed. I have been incredibly lucky, given my choices in life. The culture I associate myself with the most is one still heavily male-centric, although that is improving. In my immediate interactions within the culture, I have only ever encountered support and admiration – although there is plenty of jesting comments, and some I meet for the first time let slip the brief statement “but you’re a girl.” Overall however, I am rarely judged, usually respected, and those who feel the need to treat me differently to their peers because of my gender are quickly taken down a peg. Much of this stems from a core of very supportive and understanding friends who have only ever seen me as one of their own. In fact, save for the occasional sexist remark through online gaming (and I mean occasional. There are benefits to often dressing as the male character) I’ve had pretty much nothing hateful directed personally to me.
However, this does mean that any misogynistic, sexist, anti-feminist, fake-geek-girl comment or thread or blog post I read, I take very personally. Because it makes me realise that this stuff does actually happen, and there are some woman who have been subjected to this hate their entire life. And that is absolutely NOT ok.
Feminism is about a woman’s choice. In no way do I see myself better than men. That’s just as bad as men thinking themselves better than woman. This doesn’t mean I lack personal hygiene. As an example that isn’t overly graphic, I do shave my legs, but I don’t judge or make assumptions about women who don’t – I mean, I’d prefer if they showered, but just as much as I would like everyone to shower. I wear bras rather than burning them, and I don’t hate men. Actually, I love men.
What I do advocate is freedom of choice. If your dream is to have the 2.5 children and white picket fence, then go for it! You are just as valuable a human being as a woman who aspires to winning a Nobel Prize. Or the corporate woman who wants to put her career first. Or maybe kids are still in the ‘maybe’ basket, and you want to enjoy your life to the fullest, and meet awesome and amazing new people by drinking and partying. Who the hell doesn’t enjoy a bit of hanky-panky now and again. And just because you love sex, it doesn’t make you an awful, dirty person. It just makes you a normal human being who isn’t repressing their natural urges.
In that freedom of choice, there cannot be any room for discrimination. And I’m not just talking about gender discrimination, but racial, sexuality, and even personality. Don’t look at somebody’s cover and immediately think you know their full story. You don’t. And you won’t until you go up to them and talk. It might mean you get burnt sometimes, but that’s a part of life. And sometimes when you fall, you fly.
Because everyone is completely individual, interesting and unique. That’s the richness of society. And we need the room to spread our wings and be exactly who we want to be, regardless of situations that we cannot help, especially those based on our genetic code.
I play video games, I play Dungeons and Dragons. I love to read, write, listen and play music, watch films. I like to play sport. I’m incredibly social and love to meet new people. I enjoy a glass of wine, a cocktail, a gin and tonic on a hot day. I enjoy theatre and culture as much as I enjoy a rock concert full of sweaty students. I have a degree in Law. I have a degree in Biology. I dream of travelling and seeing the world and the people in them. I want to become a writer. Marriage and children are not a priority, and I do not believe I will have lost in life if I do not have either. I’m independent. I’m myself. And that’s ok.