An interesting concept and something that came as somewhat of a revelation to me this past week. Feminism. The scary 'F' word. It conjures up all sorts of bra-burning images and non-shaven legs and the like. All horrific stereotypes in all honesty, and well, I liked to think of myself as an enlightened woman, a feminist in all ways, with a good life and equal status in my everyday roles. Then, a few things happened.
I realised my husband was actually a feminist.
Which made me realise, much to my horror, that I wasn't.
There was a long road leading up to this, and a lot of soul searching and realisations. How can an educated woman, who writes erotica, and happily supports all of her friends and family in equality and progress, not actually be a feminist? In a number of ways actually, and although I have addressed them now, and I have changed how I think, it's not an easy road to really understand the depths of how we are conditioned by society and the affect others have on you throughout your life. The issue I was discussing with my husband and others was this.
Random men, some I had passing acquaintance with, others I have never met before, slapping my bottom.
Simple. Laughable. It's nothing really is it? It happens to me and other women quite frequently. Standing on the train, close proximity with a slow brush and squeeze which makes you freeze up. Or walking down the street and a quick 'slap' which makes you gasp in shock, or even in nightclubs or bars when you're dressed up to the nines and the touches are much more lingering as a sign of 'you're attractive', but you just think 'oh they're drunk' and just shrug like nothing happened. I used to think this was normal. Even, if you're chatting to someone and they brush your hand, or arm, and everything about that touch makes your skin crawl. They're just touching your hand right? That's not sexual assault. Or is it?
Where is the respect in such contact? Would I dream of touching anyone else in that manner without their permission? The answer is a resounding no. Male or female, the answer would still be no. As good friends and my husband asserted 'how dare they do that?' and at first I laughed as I thought they were overreacting. And then I saw the look on his face, and the weight of the words. An epiphany. My body, my value as a person was worth more than being viewed as a desirable object or piece of meat. Misogyny as such, is viewed as an old fashioned concept, but actually, in olden times, respect by a gentleman for a woman, wouldn't have found such behaviour acceptable. So why has it changed now? A couple of articles which may give cause to think are listed below... I urge you to read and think about them... It has been something that I have had to re-educate myself in in recent weeks, perhaps it's something that needs addressing more openly now...
A satirical article, but valid look at the flipside...
A shockingly accurate article on how we perpetuate our own image as women...
So how does this affect my writing as an erotica writer? It certainly makes me think more about what I write. I can't change the stories and thoughts in my head, however, I have a feeling these revelations will change what I put down on the page now. We all have fantasies, and of course, that's the point. Equality in today's society, even with our own self-imposed restrictions in some ways, at least allows most of us, this one thing. Freedom of choice. We are allowed a chance to have the dreams and hopes that we harbour within ourselves, even despite hidden barriers that we may not even realise are there until something, or someone stops us and makes us think.
That's what true feminism is about. Not belligerence and fighting which is often lauded by the media, but the strength of respect and freedom. And that goes for everyone, male or female, trans or gay or lesbian. Everyone deserves respect for who they are.