A week or so ago there was a tumblr thing getting around with a bunch of women holding signs saying “I don’t need feminism because…” I wasn’t going to bother with any sort of response because, well, it didn’t really get my fire going. It made me feel sad, more than angry. I felt kinda sorry for the women who didn’t seem to really understand what modern day feminism can be about and felt the need to try and tear down feminism.
All the signs seemed to focus on “I don’t need feminism because: I don’t hate men, I’m not a victim, and we already got the vote 100 years ago”. Well I don’t hate men (not ALL of them anyway!), I never refer to myself as a “victim” and seriously, if all our foremothers wanted was for us to be able to pick which moron (sorry – fine upstanding citizen) we want to represent us for the next three years then they were setting the bar rather low don’t you think?! Feminism is about more than the vote, but that’s not the issue I’m tackling today.
Today I hopped onto one of the “Jennifer is not alone” articles. This is a campaign supporting a woman in Florida who was advised by her hospital that if she showed up in labour they would give her a caesarean – “with or without her consent”. Simply because she had three previous caesareans. I ignored this particular article as long as I could (someone advised that the comments were rather low), but a friend commented on it and so I just had to take a look. And some of the comments really made me feel ill. That anger that I wasn’t feeling with the tumblr thing was now in full form!! My friend made a pretty profound (in my opinion!) comment that “Birth is the place feminism forgot”. This got me thinking about all the reasons why I still need feminism. Here they are:
I need feminism because it is not okay for someone to penetrate my body without my consent – no matter how many years he went to school and no matter if he thinks it is “for my own good”.
I need feminism because it is not okay for someone to cut a woman’s genitals while she says no.
I need feminism because mandatory surgery policies are a human rights violation and poor medical practice.
I need feminism because I think it’s wrong for someone I’ve never met to proclaim that they care more about my family than I do.
I need feminism because I am capable of making fully informed decisions in the best interests of my family – I don’t need a man to make these decisions for me.
I need feminism because the terms “obstetric violence” and “birth rape” even exist.
I need feminism because mothers matter too.
I need feminism because pregnant women need to be recognised as HUMAN, not another species undeserving of human rights.
I need feminism because I want my daughter to grow up knowing that no man has a right to make decisions about her body – EVER!
I need feminism because I don’t want my son to grow up feeling safer than his sister – simply by virtue of having a penis.
I need feminism because I heard a story the other day of a woman whose friend was upset that the doctor put his hand up inside her while she was birthing – the woman’s response was “Duh. How else is the doctor going to know if the baby is coming out?” Instead of telling her friend that it’s pretty normal to feel violated if someone puts their hand inside you without consent she told her that it’s normal to be violated during birth (and don’t even get me started on how unnecessary vaginal exams are!).
I need feminism because women truly believe that it’s their bodies that are broken, rather than the maternity care system.
I need feminism because women have told me that I “don’t need to learn about birth” and that I should just “do whatever the doctor says”. Being educated about my body and how it works has become a bad thing.
I need feminism because NO MEANS NO! Regardless of whether I’m in a bar, on the street, in my own home or in a hospital.
I need feminism because it’s not okay for someone else to make decisions about my body.
I need feminism because everywhere I go I am told that it actually IS okay for others to make decisions about my body and penetrate or cut my body without my consent. People tell me that I’m not capable of making a fully informed choice about my own wellbeing. And people tell me that my long term health and wellbeing doesn’t matter.
I need feminism because no-one is outraged about the injustices and violations pregnant women are facing.
I need feminism because I am a person.
So tell me – why do YOU need feminism?
Here’s a, so far, (I haven’t read the whole thing yet!) great article from Birth Anarchy’s “How we hate women” campaign: http://birthanarchy.com/afraid-big-bad-witch.
Here’s a link to the human rights in childbirth campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/human-rights-in-childbirth
And here’s a link to the (possibly!) first article the quote: “Birth is the land feminism forgot” is from. http://www.bestdaily.co.uk/your-life/news/a567116/i-was-not-allowed-the-words-that-steal-our-birth-power.html