I am a feminist, are you OK with it?
As a 20 year old male from the North West of Cumbria, labelling yourself as a ‘feminist’ can be seen as controversial. Well, I did just that. Not to say that I do actually see myself as a complete feminist, I would however say that I do agree with certain aspects of feminism. This didn’t stop me from publishing a Facebook status that read “I am a feminist”, in order to see what reactions I would get from people who saw my status. This was an idea sprung on me by my language and gender tutor Federica Formato in an English Language seminar at Edge Hill University, where I am currently partaking in my third and final year as an undergrad student. Federica thought it would be interesting to see some of the responses I would possibly receive, and as I later discovered, the results were in fact quite fascinating.
My status didn’t receive many replies on Facebook itself… to be honest I only received two. However it was the responses to me in person that I found interesting, and more often than not, left feeling quite humoured. On the status itself, I received one reply off a female, a fellow language student, saying “preach it sister”. Now it was clear to me that this reply was one of an ironic and humorous nature, but it was what I expected and it was quite a funny reply. I had more or less the same reactions from a lot of my course mates in person. In fact, I can safely say that was the first day I’ve ever walked in to a lecture and had another boy fist bump his chest and say, in the most sarcastic way ever, “preach it lad”. As well as having me close to tears from laughter, I found this really interesting, that from one simple Facebook status, so much sarcasm and disbelief was connoted and produced from what I said.
Now I admit that I may not be a ‘big player’ when it comes to Facebook, but my status actually picked up quite a few likes for once. A lot were from other Language students like myself, however some I found quite surprising. A friend I met through a charity during my summer in India sent me a text message after liking my status, saying that he was happy for me on my discovery of being a feminist… again this had me in stitches. This did, however, on reflection come as a bit of a shock to me, having experienced life (for 10 weeks in 2015) in his tribe- based society, where patriarchal structures as well as misogynistic practices seem to still be part of this culture and gender-order, perpetuated through job roles and social statuses within each village. It was clear to me that he wouldn’t post this publically on Facebook, and it was at this point that I actually started to feel like this wasn’t necessarily just an investigation but instead expressing my beliefs. Not supporting my status publically was also something that my somehow ‘backward-possibly-stuck-in-the-1800’s' Cumbrian friends expressed. I met with them that weekend after being away at university for a while and it didn’t take some of them long to question what I had wrote. As you can imagine from my reactions so far, I laughed and listened to what they had to say, before revealing why I posted it. The phrase “are you having a laugh?” was something I heard a few variations of, as apparently in the past I have not always showed a lot of feminist traits when in the company of them… I’d like to think I’ve changed now. I would have loved to have done a proper investigation, with lots of collated raw data as from my verbal exchanges with people, my findings although casual and informal, were both funny and interesting. I actually have to admit that this has made me think a little about my stance on feminism. I definitely see it in a better light now, with less negativity towards it. I also have to admit that I took offence for the first time when someone told me to go and make them a sandwich, and for that I apologise for the countless amount of times I have made that joke to friends and my mum.
Sorry mum, preach it sister!