Why I Still Need Feminism - Carys Fieldson

December 29, 2014


Why I Still Need Feminism
(and Why You Do To)



Myself and Feminism were never formally introduced, but at some vital evolutionary stage of girlhood, I was comforted by the exciting possibility of a shared identity. As a young, white, female from rural middle-class England, I had very little injustice or hardship to speak out against. However, being unarmed with any obvious legitimate grievances didn’t prevent my teenage narcissism searching for some gripe that would perhaps allow me to chew my bit in peace. 


In the time that’s passed since, I have come to see that it was precisely such feelings of moderate complacency and comfort, echoed amongst women of all ages in the western world, that is in fact enabling and maintaining gender inequalities. It achieves this by channeling women’s legitimate feelings of discontentment and dissatisfaction, towards conflicting feelings of guilt and greed, suggesting we should be grateful with our ‘lot’.

I began to confront the idea that patriarchy feeds from the latency of women like myself to be simply contented. Society manages to convince us to feel grateful for what we have, be content with the relative equality we have already achieved, be thankful for our comparative economic stability and ‘cushty’ home life. We continually measure our relative successes against our female counterparts in less fortunate situations than our own in other parts of the world. Women who are more suppressed and have less freedom than we are accustomed to. We are taught to count our blessings.

Our sense of helplessness is heightened through daily exposure to global news and media, making us vitally aware of a much larger, seemingly insurmountable, crisis for women and girls worldwide. Media and charity campaigns report of young girls forced into marriage and premature pregnancies across Africa, that it is still illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia and that the horror of Female Genital Mutilation or FGM (A procedure that removes external female genitalia without any heath benefits) is still mutilating millions of girls annually across Africa and the Middle East. The gang assault and rape of a 23 year old girl on a bus in Delhi in 2012 caused shockwaves throughout India and the rest of the world. Global media attention and public protests mount pressures on national governments to employ better security and equality for women.

Aside from large-scale media and news coverage of global cases of gender inequality and injustice, Twitter and ‘#’campaigns allow individuals to speak out against gender inequality and gain power in numbers. Millions of individual voices conveying personal accounts of sexist abuse and discrimination are echoed across the world in many tongues, all united by a common keyboard 
symbol. 



The hashtag campaign #bringbackourgirls rallied social networkers to repost and speak out to bring about the safe return of 200 girls who were abducted from a school in Nigeria. Started by a small group of 30 campaigners in Abuja, the campaign quickly became an international voice of unity, solidarity, but most importantly of action. Social platforms such as Facebook and Google were used to organize community events and share online petitions.[1]

This summer, thousands of Turkish women have protested by harnessing the power in pictures. Twitter was swarmed with thousands of snapshots of women in fits it laugher using #direnkahkaha, Turkish for ‘resist laugher’. This seemingly friendly backlash was sparked by an alarmingly misogynistic statement made by Turkey’s deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arınc, who claimed honest women should not laugh in public. 



While the Internet has provided an immeasurably vital platform for the transference of ideas, values and experiences of women internationally, gender inequality remains a very present battle on the home front. Projects such as ‘Everyday Sexism’ provide public forums that highlight the systematic, subtle suppression and objectification that occurs in the daily lives of everyday women. The acts, varying from wolf whistles on the tube to misogynistic office ‘banter’, highlight that even within the workplace women are continually undermined and undervalued. Other relevant campaigns include #nomorepage3 that slams the Sun’s continued use of soft pornographic and objectifying images of women to sell newspapers and #freethenipple that seeks to highlight the injustice and inequality brought about by the sexualisation of women’s breasts, pushing policy makers to apply a more liberal attitude towards their exposure.


However, despite our grand global strides and inter-continental hashtags we seem to have left some comrades behind and it appears the Feminist message has become a little clouded. Women have been speaking out in a unified rejection of Feminism, proclaiming it to be obsolete, old fashioned and out of touch. More shockingly, many suggest the ideologies are man-hating, aggressive and deploy blanket idealisms that fail to acknowledge women’s individual life and career choices. The recent wave of anti-Feminism has taken hold across many social media sites including Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook. The campaign #idontneedfeminism speaks out against Feminism accompanied by thousands of photos of women holding up personal, hand written accounts, of why feminism is not for them:

“I don’t need feminism because they tell women that they are intrinsically beautiful but tell men that they are potential rapists.”
-Shotguntactic

“I don’t need feminism because they use tragedies to further their political agenda.”
-aconservativehero

“I don’t need feminism because I believe in Jesus and he made us all equal!”
-Anonymous

“I don’t need feminism; I need equality.”
-xxthebeatmonsterxx

[Quotes from http://why-we-dont-need-feminism.tumblr.com]



Despite all these statements being incredibly ill conceived and ill informed, one reoccurring objection made by these women, and a real sticking point with me, is rejecting Feminism on the grounds that it refuses to acknowledge their individual choice to be stay-at-home mothers within ‘traditional’ families. However, what many of these women fail to acknowledge is that their choice alone is a privilege that they are only able to make because of Feminism. If you are condemning Feminism because you wish “to have the choice to stay at home and not to work” you have precisely Feminism to thank for your freedom of choice. That is what it has won for us all. Your mother or grandmother may not have had the luxury of any individual assertion in the matter and many millions of girls across the world still aren’t able to make that decision for themselves, it is a lifestyle imposed upon them.

What is so glaringly revealing to anyone who visits one of the many ‘Women Against Feminism’ pages is that the majority of the women appear young, white and middle class. Perhaps we can take a little satisfaction from the fact that small pockets of privileged women feel their lives are so fulfilled, satisfied and safe from violence; evidencing that Feminism has, in some small sense, achieved a little ground. Similarly we must understand that ‘systemic misogyny within the capitalist-patriarchy makes it very difficult for women to see the reality of their oppression.’ [2]

However, what is worse it that these women fail to acknowledge the reality of the lives of women who do not have similar privileges to themselves, living in silenced and underprivileged communities. While you may feel you don’t need Feminism, others do. 

Don’t let patriarchy silence you, convince you to stay quiet and be happy. There is still work to do, complacency won’t get us anywhere.


by Carys Fieldson



Carys Fieldson is a recent BA Fine Art graduate of Loughborough University 
and is currently living and working in Paris.




Portraits of Felicity

December 27, 2014

Last month my best friend Felicity turned 24, we have been friends since we were 10 years old. We have such polar opposite tastes in nearly everything. She has lived 250 miles away from our home town for the past 5 years and despite long periods of no communication we always find our way back to each other. 
 I made the long journey down to Bournemouth to see her recently and took some portraits to mark her 24th. I’d like to think the pictures glimpse at the struggles she’s been going through lately but also her strength.

I’d like to continue taking portraits of the women in my life who are turning 24, to document their place in the world, their fears, their dreams...it’s not a specific milestone but you are creeping very slowly away from a more carefree time. For some they are making the first steps in their careers and being fully independent for the first time, and for some like myself I’m doing none of those. It’s interesting to look back at our mothers at that age, many of them were married and starting their families, it seems a lot has changed in one generation.







Can you remember the first time we met? 


We met in year 5 at Bramcote Lorne School as I was being shown around. You wrote me a letter asking me to come to your house... it had all little pictures on it and different coloured pens. You later inspired me to become interested in the environment.



What is your favourite memory from our childhood together? 

One of my favourite childhood memories is going down to the river together behind your house and setting up habitats for wildlife and riding our bikes between our houses and singing at the top of our lungs ‘woahhhhh living on a prayer!!!’



What has been the most valuable thing you have learned growing into an adult? 


The most valuable thing I have learned growing into an adult it to enjoy things while you have them. Not to always be looking into the future at the things you might have or do because what ever you are enjoying now, no matter how constant it may seem, you never know when it might be gone. So ENJOY life


What are your dreams? 

To do environmental research and be good at it! To travel and ultimately be happy!! Living somewhere hot, loving my job and for everyone to believe in climate change and do something about it!!!

Chicken Shop Chic Style Post

December 11, 2014


Introducing a spontaneous late night shoot

 on how to pull off Chicken Shop Chic 

with the help of my art school babes




Buckets

Artist . Sister . Likes bike rides and couples who dress the same


Phoebe . 20 .  Live Art Performer . Likes curry & DVF


Phoebe's Look 

Chicken Burger with onion rings and fries.

Black & White Wrap Dress - TKMaxx 
Leather Jacket - Topshop
Black Reebok Classics
Cream Pom Pom Scarf & Faux leather backpack- Primark
Earrings - River Island
Lipstick - Rimmel Kate Moss No.22
Foundation - Rimmel match perfection shade 100 Ivory 
Eyeliner - L'oreal liquid liner
Mascara - L'oreal million lashes
Perfume - Chanel no.5
Blusher - Rimmel Live Pink
Sleek Contour Kit
Benefit Brow Zings
Soap and Glory Eye Shadow
Rimmel stay matte powder
Underwear - Primark
Deodorant - Sure for women 
Nail Varnish - Barry M Red Black


Abbie's Look

Chicken Burger, Fries, Onion Rings and Pepsi


Jumpsuit & Headband - Missguided

Cream Cardigan - Topshop
Coat - Charity Shop
Classic Dr. Martins Shoes

Ankh necklace & Moonstone pendant 
Knickers - M&S 
Socks - Primark
Barry M Navy Blue Nail Varnish
Mac Foundation fluid fix in nc15

Mac volume mascara
Mac satin finish blusher in fleur
Rimmel eyeliner
Benefit eyebrow kit for eye shadow and brows
Rimmel bronzer
Olay total effects 7 CC cream in light to medium
Mac red lipstick in vixen
Molecules 01 perfume
Dove deodorant stick
''and a killer attitude from my mama''




With Thanks to Chesters Chicken, Fallowfield for providing no free chicken

x

Thoughts on Feminism & Pop Culture

December 8, 2014

December 2014 Issue
Its taken me a while to get round to writing this blog post. As soon as I opened Elle magazine’s December feminist issue I was all set to write a post praising its boldness. But in the days that followed my social media feeds were filled with outcry questioning what authority a fashion magazine has over feminism. I was hurt, and felt personally undermined. As if those more intelligent and than me were trivialising my interests. Yes I love fashion, yes I’m a feminist.  You only need to listen to Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s famous ted talk to know that fashion and feminism can go hand in hand.

However I am not naïve, I completely understand the paradox of feminism and the fashion industry but lets be clear we are living in a capitalist society.  Advertisements pray on our dissatisfactions, they sell us our unattainable beautiful future and I’m afraid fashion magazines feature these adds and their editorials often feature the so called ‘ideal’ slim, white body. It's not just fashion magazines that use this imagery, it’s the majority of media we consume.

But I do not believe this discredits the brilliant journalism and issues raised in Elle magazine.  Criticizing Elle’s feminist credentials is like asking me if the outfit I'm is wearing is ‘feminist enough, its ridiculous. Everyone has a right to engage in this conversation. So lets not criticise women’s magazine that are attempting to change the discourse.

November 2013 Issue 

We have got to start somewhere and Elle and many other writers, activists, bloggers, creative and pop icons have collectively reignited the conversation.  And for the younger generation the conversation has just started.

There has been some talk about what a feminist ‘should’ be doing rather than just declaring oneself a feminist. Do these critics not realise this is just the start for many of us?

You shouldn’t feel less of a feminist for not taking to the streets. For myself Feminism is a lens through which I view the world, it has started from within. It is apparent through how we respect each other and ourselves as equals and to not let sexist behaviour wash over us.  Why undermine women who identify as feminist because you don’t see them on the picket line, we are not silent in our belief of equality.

November 2013 Issue 
Feminism is personal and it shouldn’t be dictated. For many young women the journey has only just begun and they may make the decision to become political activists and they may not. We do need change and we need the push for it to happen, but we can also make smaller changes in our own lives that make steps towards becoming an equal society. 

I was genuinely excited when I first saw Elle magazines first feminist issue in November 2013, I thought ‘YES, this is spreading the word, it’s reaching a wider audience…I’m not alone’ 
That issue along with the all the campaigns that were gathering momentum gave me confidence for my voice to be heard. After a discussion with my university tutor about my lack of self-confidence with my work she pointed out that confidence for a woman, in itself is a feminist matter. With that in mind I proceeded to organise a craftivist feminist workshop where I started with a talk about why feminism was still relevant for me in front of a group of my peers. I was terrified.

I think a lot of young women would be sick with nerves like I was at the thought of public speaking, especially talking about such a contested subject.  I think a lot of us have a ‘little old me’ mentality, as if our voices are not worthy of being heard.  Confidence is what I applaud Elle magazine for, giving women the confidence to have conversations and discussion about the inequality women face all over the world, how patriarchy and hyper masculinity damages men too, to challenge sexism, and to let there voices be heard.

December 2014 Issue

When Emma Watson, my childhood hero, stood before UN ambassadors and gave her speech, I burst with pride, and yes, I got emotional! She was articulating my exact thoughts and feelings to a world stage.

Feminism needs to be more inclusive there are some women that don’t identify with mainstream often ‘white’ feminism, there are young women who are influenced by Beyoncé and pop culture that feel their voices aren’t valid because of academic critics, and there are men who support feminism that feel like their not allowed a voice in the matter.


 Feminism is such a broad movement and there are so many opinions on different issues. Nothing will come from the endless online bickering in comment sections. I can accept different people from different backgrounds will have a different stance on some matters. What can be agreed on is we all strive for equality and what is important is that we all respect and support each other. Choice is a powerful thing and we have been given the gift of choice by the generations of feminists before us. So please can we respect other women’s choices and put trivialities aside and concentrate on change in societies attitude towards woman and the gender binaries that restrict us. As I said before, it can start within yourself or outside your parameters. One is not less valid then the other.