I happily call myself a feminist but I find the fourth wave of feminism a rather muddled and insular movement, to say the least.
Here are my top six examples of the absurd levels of offence some in the sisterhood now take at everyday things:
1. Friday the 13th
According to some feminists, Friday the 13th is inherently sexist. It is “apparently a manifestation of the patriarchy because Friday is the only day of the week named after a female goddess, and a group of 13 women was considered to be a coven of witches approximately 9 billion years ago.” That makes a lot of sense.
2. Acknowledging that the British Prime Minister is a woman
Labour MP Harriet Harman this weekend described the prime minister Theresa May as “no sister”, with her Labour colleague Kezia Dugdale backing this up by saying that “we know the truth” when Theresa May declares herself to be a feminist by wearing a T-shirt. Journalist Laurie Penny wrote an aggravating piece in the New Statesman claiming that a two-horse raise between two female Tory candidates is “no female revolution” and that “she [has] spent the day being told [she] should be pleased that the future leader of [our] country will be female. This is the feminist revolution in the same way that the Charge of the Light Brigade was a military triumph.”
When anyone points out that it is in fact good for women and women’s progression within politics that we have a female PM, they are shot down with calls of “you’re not a real feminist” or “this doesn’t count”. Apparently it’s against the feminist movement to acknowledge that having a female leader represents something positive. Ironically, these howls of anger come primarily from MPs and supporters of the Labour Party who have never had a female leader. Pot kettle black.
3. Using the words “he” or “she”
Addressing or describing an individual as he or she, as opposed to “they”, is allegedly sexist, as it distinguishes women from men, therefore casting them as an “other”. In addition, utilising “Miss” indicates that a woman is “on the market”, and therefore should be viewed only as a potential wife, as opposed to a person in her own right, apparently.
David Marsh took this further in the Guardian, by saying that “Most sexist and racist language arises from the presumption that everyone is male and white”.
The introduction of the prefix “Mx” has be introduced to counteract this sexism, and allows people to identify as gender neutral on forms to avoid being typecast as one gender. This is important for transpeople and progress in that sense, but for women in particular we already have Ms to avoid using Mrs or Miss.
4. Pointing out that young white working class boys have it hard
Supposedly it is sexist to point out that young working class white boys are disadvantaged in the education system and that more funds need to be allocated to their education. This marginalises the poor girls who are 75% more likely to go to university than boys, as they are under-represented within careers in science, technology, engineering and maths. This defecit, apparently, is a more pressing issue than the vast swathes of working class boys achieving next to nothing educationally. The view seems to be to bash “white, male privilege”.
5. Recognising the differences between male and female brains
The National Science museum recently came under fire for showing a diagram suggesting that there are differences between male and female brains (highlighted by blue and pink). This caused an uproar, as it indicated that women have “pink brains” and are somehow different to men.
It has been discussed by many, including Charlotte Gill for Heat Street, about how this is an accurate depiction of neurological differences. The museum issued a statement of apology, claiming that “it was just a joke” because the furore was so heightened by outraged women and transpeople who were allegedly offended by the fact that they may have a gendered brain – which is beyond their self-identification and purely biological. Science is sexist.
As the trans “community” now falls under the umbrella of feminism, many were OUTRAGED when a hashtag, #ifmenhadperiods, appeared on the internet discussing the imagined scenario in which men had periods and how this would be different. This is sexist, apparently, as not just women have periods – transpeople who identify as men but are biologically women also suffer, and it is a thought crime to forget this – even though periods are a female biological occurrence and are distinct from gender identity. However, to point this out is also sexist because you are putting aside self identifying women and dismissing them. It could rightly be viewed as transphobic for dismissing the transcommunity and identity but is distinctly not sexist – as it affects both self identifying men and women.