Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Turning Our Little Girls Into Riot Grrls: Emma Watson and Feminism

Recently I have stepped back from constantly writing reactive pieces to everyday fat bashing. 
I have felt that the road is well trodden, constantly covered by other bloggers and writers and also I guess I was suffering from outrage fatigue. Feeling like Pavlovs dog, instead of reacting to a tinkling bell I was reacting to another load of drivel on twitter or in the daily hate.
This morning though I watched a clip of the remarkable young actress Emma Watson (most famous for playing Hermione in Harry Potter) and I feel galvanised to acknowledge how inspiring I found what she had to say.Its 13 minutes so grab a cuppa but its so worth a watch (see transcript here)





This UN Speech  also nudged me out of my drooling slumber and made me realise that whilst  I have over the last few years promoted my own brand of feminism via body politics I had  neglected to acknowledge how important it is that I am a feminist, how it informs every choice I make in my daily life  and no it isn't a scary word.
I can't pretend to have had any kind of feminist awakening, its in my DNA. I was brought up by a mother who is the living embodiment of female emancipation and by eleven I had chomped my way through The female Eunuch and back issues of Spare Rib with gusto.
I accepted the ideals presented to me as basic common sense (I am a woman so of course I want to be treated equally to men-its a no brainer) but the aesthete in me found the lack of glamour, the casting off of the more obvious garments of femininity such as make up and beautiful clothes favored by some feminists at the time  a bit uninspiring. 
I loved the politics, the denim dungarees-not so much.
As is so often the case with me I really connected with how I could stride through the world as my own version of a feminist via music and fashion. 
 I was one of the original Riot Grrls, in my ripped tea dress and Courtney Love inspired bleached hair, listening to Huggy Bear.
Bands like Babes in toyland gave me a feminism I could identify with in my teens

The idea that girls didn't have to be "the girlfriend, the muse or the groupie" but could instead form their own bands, write their own music was to me the embodiment of action over words. Naomi Wolfes beauty Myth which I read alongside this was also a big influence.I had this quote scrawled on my wall-how sad that it still resonates as much today as back then.



Roll on twenty years and the landscape of femininity has changed beyond comprehension. It some respects we have never had it so good but in others, particularly in terms of  beauty ideals things are really fucking bleak. Young girls are subjected to daily messages about how they should look, act and a lot of it is really warped.
 As the mother of a young daughter I have wondered how different her generation will be to mine. Will they become presidents, CEOs, game changers? or will they be too busy auditioning to get on Big brother or hoping their selfies launch a modelling career?
Sure I've watched with interest the activities of Pussy Riot but so much of what they are  about is in response to the oppression of the country they live in. Im not sure that's the pathway for my daughter.
Which is where Emma Watson taking her place publicly as a young feminist comes in.


She's come a long way from Hogwarts

Emma Watson makes me hopeful that just as I did, this generation of feminists will take the cause and make it their own. And yes progress the ideas to encompass a wider ideal of how we should be looking to free both men and woman from the shackles of expected gender stereotypes. I particularly loved this in Emma's speech

"Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong… It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals"

It took a youtube clip from a UN conference to make me realise that whilst I may promote body positivity  daily I had forgotten to reiterate that the reason I feel so comfortable being a plus size body confident woman is because I'm a feminist. So is my husband, you see being feminist is about equality for all as Emma so eloquently pointed out:

 feminism by definition is: “The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities. It is the theory of the political, economic and social equality of the sexes.” 

What  a beautiful belief that is to have.






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5 comments:

  1. Hell yeah. I've been happy to admit to being a feminist for a long time, and I think it was probably the same as you, a combo of a strong mother (I never realised that girls were supposed to be nurses rather than surgeons until I was in my teens, when I'd gone off the idea of both due to the aversion I developed to blood) - and Naomi Wolf. I truly believe that women, and the world, would be much happier if we all pulled together and stopped bitching about each others arse sizes. How can we change the world if we're too busy pulling each other down?

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  2. I love this post. At times I have felt dragged down by the negativity of others (especially on social media) but I think the be positive and empowered is a much healthier stance to take. It's so important to teach young girls and young boys to value themselves and each other.

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  3. Hell yes to this post and feminism. x x

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