There are some days you know you will remember forever. I recently had one of those when I got the opportunity to hear Gloria Steinem speak at the West Cork Literary Festival. It was one of the highlights of the year for me. Everyone knows Gloria Steinem as a feminist icon. However she is also a prolific writer, editor and a keen social and political activist. From a very young age I thought of myself as a feminist. I grew up with strong female role models like my mother, sisters, aunts and friends who taught me that men and women had as much value as each other. In spite of identifying as a feminist I was often made to feel as though I shouldn’t call myself one. There seemed to be a kind of stigma attached to the word, as if it somehow meant you were angry or anti-men. I was influenced by this attitude at first but then I was introduced to Gloria Steinem.

Gloria made me feel proud to call myself a feminist and now I wear it as a badge of honour. I am feminist hear me roar and so on. In truth all it really means is that you believe in equality for everyone. The older I get the more I realise that if we hold one group in society down it holds us all down. Gloria is 82 years old, now I don’t mention that figure so we can put it next to a picture of her in order to dissect her image like they do in the magazines. I say it because Gloria has spent over five decades fighting for women’s rights and there is no sign that she is slowing down. Her career has spanned nearly 60 years. She is also the furthest thing from anti-men or angry that I have ever seen. Continue reading

Feminism, a dirty word?

Feminism has always been a very loaded word. It has been discussed and debated over and over again. It is a term that comes with a lot of baggage. Many people do not want to be connected with this word because of what’s associated with it. The word feminism seems to say to some people that you do not like men and that you cannot have feminine qualities. I identify myself as a feminist and I most certainly do not hate men. I also as it happens really like make up and fashion. These stereotypes similarly to gender stereotypes, are just constructs of society that we need to break down in order to live in a more equal society.

Feminism is also a word that makes some people role their eyes when they hear it. They say that we don’t need it anymore because everything is fine now. This attitude really infuriates me because yes it is true we have come a long way and we should be grateful for that. However we have a long way to go before we live in an equal world. I think that another reason the term feminism is feared is because it is often part of an academic discussion and perhaps others are afraid to join in this conversation. People are intimidated and afraid to have an opinion but the truth is gender is every bodies, it belongs to everyone. The term is automatically associated  with very impressive figures such as Gloria Steinem and Simone De Beauvoir etc, etc but anyone and everyone is affected by gender so everyone deserves an opinion. I think that feminism is for everyone no matter what your gender, race, sexuality, social class etc. Continue reading