- Date published:
3:03 pm, October 17th, 2016 - 113 comments
Categories: activism, feminism, gender, Politics, sexism, Social issues - Tags: feminism, Laura Bates, misogyny, trump, Vonny Moyes
Vonny Moyes is an arts journalist and social activist. She’s a weekly columnist in The National, regular commentator and head of digital communications for an environment agency
There are lots of things going on in the world right now, but it feels rather like we’ve been flipped inside out. There has been a lot to get mad about for quite some time, but this week The Bucket of Ignorance truly hath runneth over with grade-A sexist bunk. The fact that the negative stereotypes of the gender binary intersect with everything – politics, sport, journalism and beyond – mean that they are impossible to ignore. Now seems like a prudent point to stop and cogitate on the absurdity of where we find ourselves, as a supposedly advanced civilisation. If you want to quickly take the temperature of the current conversation, just type Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton into any social media platform. If you need something a little closer to home, try Ched Evans, and marvel at the number of men offering to rape women as punishment. This sort of on-the-sleeve vitriol has become normal.
Yet this – the sexual assault stuff – is the only thing so far that seems to have dented the Trump train in any way. Why? Because enough of us have reach the tipping point. This is one feather too many on the scale. For a lot of us, 2016 is the year the passivity bandwidth has maxed out. The year the patience well has run dry. We’re finally finding our ovaries and saying “this is not okay”. And yes, we really have to say this out loud, because even though it’s blindingly obvious to every woman out there, people still think calling it a joke vindicates it in some way. A prime example from just last week was Everyday Sexism’s Laura Bates having to underline to Radio 4’s Justin Webb (from 2:54:09 or shorter snippet here) the danger of conflating sexual assault with compliments.
I’m done with speaking out being an added-extra. I’m done with hidden feminism. I’m finished with being the plainclothes officer who only flashes the badge when it counts. I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Right now it counts. Society tells us to be quiet and pliant. We laugh off the dude that stands too close to us. We don’t smack away the wandering digits of the creepy guy on the bus. Instead of finding our voices, we freeze and accept, and feel dirty afterwards.
This is bigger than us. We know feminism isn’t just for women, but we need to keep saying this aloud until it’s crystal clear. The fortification of the gender binary hurts all of us. It’s about freeing everyone from the expectations and inequalities of each, and creating the freedom to be yourself – despite what society tells you you should be because of your assigned gender.
This week I heard a brilliant phrase. Cheryl Strayed, the award-winning American author, described this growing refusal to comply as “The Age of The Bitch”. How perfect is that? This dismantling of the need to be liked that bridles us to keeping things palatable for others is what we need to embrace.
So ladies, it’s time to unhook ourselves from that conditioning. Your voices of dissent are needed more than ever, because it’s about to get worse. Now is the time for us to take action that will shape the future.
As The Atlantic’s Michelle Cottle points out, however the US election goes, it’ll open the floodgates of misogyny that will reverberate far beyond politics, and far beyond the US. If Hillary Clinton wins, we all know the sort of language that will colour the political grievances. And if Trump wins, we have a man in the highest and perhaps most visible office in the world saying it’s okay to assault women.
Today I called something sexist bullshit in the street, much louder than a whisper, and you know what? The sky didn’t fall on my head. And what’s even better, it felt honest and real. So let’s be loud. Let’s be abrasive. Let’s dig our heels in and be that bitch.