Sunday, 16 March 2008

‘Scared of being branded a “feminist”’

Friday March14th 2008
Branded? Can we just run that one past again? Branded? Who exactly is being branded here? Owch!
What is so frightening, so scorchingly terrifying, about someone thinking or saying you’re a feminist, that it counts as ‘branding’? It isn’t just a ‘figure of speech,’ it’s a profoundly emotive word. How could being considered a feminist possibly feel that bad? That frightening?
Why are artists, of almost any sort, so afraid of what this word means?

Ok, let’s try this out.
Let’s consider what really is frightening:
Being beaten half to death by your husband/ boyfriend/ ex-boyfriend/ father/ brother/ pimp/ dealer/ landlord/ mother’s husband/ boyfriend/ pimp/ dealer etc./ Yes. All of those, they’re all terrifying, and so is the threat of any one of them.
Being raped. Be it by ‘friend’/ boyfriend/ husband/ employer/ stranger/ all the rest etc. Yes. Unquestionably.
Attempting to report any of the above to the police, dealing with the Criminal Justice System and with predatory journalists. Yes.
Being scared of an impending home office visit, of the bang on the door at 5.00 am and finding the immigration police. Yes. Of deportation. Yes, be absolutely terrified.
Of Mahmood Ahmedinejad, the Guardian Council and the religious police. Yes. Of solitary confinement, interrogation and torture. Yes.
Approaching the check-point of the occupying army. Yes. Of landmines, of “precision” bombing, of ‘collateral damage,’ of snipers, of artillery fire from the surrounding hills, of car bombs, suicide bombers, death squads, partisan militias. In short of all forms of male violence, and in particular the organised, militarised sort. Yes. BE VERY VERY SCARED INDEED.

Of the aids test coming out positive. Yes. It is frightening. Of Alzheimer’s, of your sight or hearing or movement becoming impaired, changing, going. All dealable with to be sure, but all scary, especially at first and if it’s wholly unexpected.

Of being stuck up a big mountain on your own, at night. Of being in a desert without water. Of walking barefoot down a dry riverbed in Australia. JUST DON’T DO IT.

There are a thousand things to be scared of. Some truly terrifying. Some beyond the scope of what we can reasonably deal with. Others, scary at first, then become part of being normal.

But the lady at the laundrette thinking you might be a feminist? The shopkeeper thinking the same? Your daughters maths teacher suspecting a hint of radicalism perhaps? Someone asking if your work’s feminist? Or saying it is. Or writing it?
I’M SORRY. NO. If just doesn’t figure.

What kind of state of mass psychosis have we arrived in if we really are more scared of the woman who shouts about being raped, than we are of the suited gentleman (or the hooded gang) who raped her?

There will now a follow a couple of minute’s silence while we contemplate this state of intergalactic derangement.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good point, well made. People should be PROUD to use this term to describe themselves.

(I came across your blog via Ester's blog about the GSA ceramics department, btw).