“Why feminism? Because you’re worth it!” was the powerful, sardonic closing line of Finn MacKay’s inspirational speech at Reclaim The Night 2009;- the famous yearly march that witnessed 2000 women dance, chant, sing, shout & smile (alongside Europe’s largest drumming ensemble ‘SheBoom’) their way through the city of London on a very cold and wet November night to let the world know, with one very loud, clear and resounding message; we will not tolerate violence against women in any of its forms.
My personal sense of purpose was overwhelming and I was left feeling exhilarated for days after.
Those who believe that women are now equal in society are grossly misinformed. The fight for equality is far from over. Yes, we have come a long way but we have a long, long way to go. As long as women are systematically dying at the hands of violent partners, being raped and not seeing their rapists convicted, being sexually harassed, being harassed on the streets, being stalked, being prostituted, being trafficked, being genitally mutilated, being murdered in the name of ‘honour’ or being forced into marriage, we will continue to fight. As long as teenage girls continue to suffer unwanted sexual acts and physical violence within their relationships, we will continue to fight. As long as these very same teenage girls think it’s normal to want breast enhancements for their 16th birthdays, we will continue to fight. As long as pornography is more prevalent than sex education and we continue to suffer the harms from this, we will continue to fight. As long as women are valued for their sexual appeal and bodily parts over their character, we will continue to fight. As long as the majority of women and girls hate their bodies and endure low self-esteem because of this, we will continue to fight. Where women are paid less for doing the same work, we will be there fighting. Until women are represented fairly and treated equally in parliament and the justice system, we will continue to fight. Where women are silenced, we shall shout louder and continue to fight. Wherever there is inequality and oppression, not only for our sisters at home but for those across the globe, we will continue to fight, and we will only stop fighting as Finn said ‘when the job is done’. We will stop fighting when women are truly valued & respected as human beings.
Our recent efforts, however, are not in vain. With campaigns such as ‘Stripping The Illusion’ & ‘Demand Change’ led by human tights organisations Fawcett, Object & Eaves, feminism was rewarded with two major triumphs this year with the passing of new laws in the Policing & Crime Bill. Included in the bill was Clause 13, which puts the rights of exploited women over those of the pimps & punters, and the reform of lap dancing club laws, which tightens up the regulation of lap dancing clubs by reclassifying them as ‘sex establishments’ rather than ‘entertainment’ venues. Not only were we marching in unison for violence in all its forms against women to end, we were also celebrating in harmony over these monumental, historical and revolutionary victories and I couldn’t have been more thrilled to be holding the OBJECT banner with Anna Van Heeswijk outside the doors of Spearmint Rhino, chanting, along with 2000 women, “We changed the law and we’ll change some more!” Now that is empowerment.
So, alongside Harriet Harman causing a few stirs within parliament and the media by putting women’s issues back on the agenda (how dare she?), it’s an exciting and encouraging time for feminism right now. We are being heard and we must never falter in our hopes for a better future for us all. Don’t forget feminism benefits all of us. So, why feminism? Because you’re worth it, because I’m worth it, because male or female, we are all worth it.