Category Archives: Young feminists

Dear daughter…

Letters section lead by Jen Faulkner

Friendships are hard things to navigate at times. From when you’re a toddler and your peers refuse to share, to being at school and struggling not to give in to peer pressure, to being an adult and all of the complexities that come with it. I was talking to my fourteen year old the other day, who often has friendships struggles as all teenagers do, and the conversation inspired me to write her a letter about the many aspects of what it takes to be a good friend.

Dear Daughter,

We talk about friendships a lot. Aside from exam stress and sibling rivalry it’s one of our main topics of conversation. You talk and I listen because I have learnt that you don’t want me to fix the problem, just understand. Continue reading Dear daughter…

FEMINISM IN POP CULTURE – A YOUNG FEMINIST’S VIEW

Bristol Woman is delighted to publish the second part of the ‘Young Feminist’ series from young blogger, Mollie Semple. Probably, our youngest guest blog contributor to date. In this blog, Mollie tells us her hopes and fears in terms of the evolution and expansion of today’s Third Wave feminism. Definitely worth a read!

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It used to be, in recent years, that there was only a very subtle undertone of feminism in any kind of pop culture most likely due to the fact the ‘Angry Feminist’ was the only stereotype thought of to refer to. And an angry woman just does not sell to the masses.

After the popularity of the full on 90s feminist movement Riot Grrrl, the whereabouts of feminists in the limelight, to me as a young person, appear to have dwindled away.

Only a few years ago I found it hard to find celebrities, songs and films right in the middle of popular culture to resonate with my growing feminist beliefs but now it’s increasingly hard to find an area that isn’t slathered in a new Third Wave feminist tint.

Obviously this feminism has always been around, but there wasn’t the same platform there is now to shout out to the world about one’s beliefs on equality. There wasn’t the same number of actresses questioning the press why it was only them who were asked about their family life or their skincare routine instead of their impressive careers. There was no Emma Watson to appeal to UN delegates on the importance of equality for women. Feminism was a dirty word, but I can see more and more of us embrace it as a powerful one. It is within this explosion onto the Hollywood scene, the music scene, the celebrity scene that one can see, mixed in with the added bonus of the Internet, the power of the media to share a message with the people.

This sudden surge of Third Wave feminism in the Western world, which has been building up, right from the first surge of Riot Grrrl, is completely exhilarating. Twitter is littered with it, Facebook is swimming in it and the celebrities are more and more becoming advocates for it. The Angry Feminist, for most, is now just a ‘Taming of the Shrew’ type exaggeration because a huge number of people are now fitting comfortably into a new “acceptable” egalitarian category. We are of course still angry, because you can’t see the gaps in equality and not become deeply impassioned in a desire for change, but it is now an accepted feature to be commended and not frowned upon.

Staggeringly, huge numbers of female celebrities are no longer afraid to open their mouth and express an important opinion in case of a drop in popularity. There has finally been created a safe space for feminism within pop culture where women and men can properly express their thoughts on it. The obvious inequality in this culture is no longer happily ignored, Third Wave feminism has broken through and started to dominate. Perhaps this is the beginning of the end.

However, I do just have one issue with this mostly brilliant popular movement. I worry that in between Emma Watson’s work for the UN, or frequent call outs on the Hollywood pay gap meant to ripple into the world wide pay gap, or the highlighting of the blatant racism in the film industry, there isn’t just a small element of inactivity with this newfound prestige. I wonder if there is too much focus on Western inequality and a lack of intrigue for the disastrous inequality on the other side of the world. Malala Yousafzai has been voicing her feminist views for her culture all over the world, but I wonder if she reaches the level of pop culture that, say, Ryan Gosling does. Western inequality is not unimportant or negligible in any way, but we mustn’t again fall into the trap of forgetting that the rest of the world exists. I also worry that this popularity might be detrimental to feminism in the way that it could exhaust its meaning without a sufficient achievement.

I am so excited by the fact that celebrities are using their platform to spread the word of feminism, but are they truly aiding us or telling us to actively do something?

Perhaps my criticisms are unfair here, perhaps I should just let feminism with its new fame find its steps and see where it goes. I just don’t want its power to become trivial, and for the feminist stereotype to be cyclical and in a few years time we fall into the unattractive label of the “Angry Feminist” once more. I just don’t want this fantastic opportunity to be squandered and lost in this fast moving pace of the pop culture world.

BIO
Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.

BEING A YOUNG FEMINIST

In this two-part guest blog series from probably Bristol Woman’s youngest guest blogger so far, we are delighted to welcome 17-year old young feminist and avid blogger, Mollie Semple. In this first post, Mollie discusses her own experience of what it feels like to be a young feminist.

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I am, and have always been, an impassioned, opinionated, young feminist. I have no qualms with this, this is very much an integral part of who I am, and yet, for a while, it used to be a very alienating experience. It used to feel as if every one of your peers just wouldn’t open their ears and listen to what you had to say, to what the world was saying, and to what women were saying at the time.

Instead, they’d laugh at you. If you were opinionated enough you’d get a reputation, for which I certainly did. Boys would deliberately rile you up because for them it was amusing, but all you wanted to do was to help them to understand what made you so upset. New terminology was making its rounds as the boys and girls discovered a sexuality they were unable to explore yet. “Gash” was a favourite amongst the lads to refer to their female counterparts as a putrid description of an area they were still to be lucky enough to come close to.

My female peers and I had suddenly become pockets of sexual favours to most of the boys, but we were yet to feel the need to speak so cruelly of them. And to a lot of us, the words started to slide over our heads as we’d numb ourselves to the terms that damaged our worth as human beings just because it was said so frequently. I tried to tell everyone this, but they just said I was silly. I couldn’t understand why even the girls didn’t feel the need to protect themselves as females from a society which sought to undermine them. Why didn’t this make them angry? Why would they not fight back with me? For a while it felt like I would have to do this alone.

And then, as if all of a sudden, I wasn’t the only one who felt so intrinsically linked to this word ‘feminism’. It started to make others feel passionately too. Now I could have heated, one-sided discussions about how desperately the world needed feminism and how great it was to be a young feminist. Now, instead of feeling as if I was shouting at an empty room, others were beginning to shout with me and we were going to teach the world about our newfound club. We were feminists, and we were going to let everybody know about it.

Today, in my first year of 6th form, as a feminist I feel pretty empowered. I have both boys and girls who will defend my arguments vehemently because they understand how important a need there is to educate and to fight for this cause of equality. There is certainly a more positive connotation to the word ‘feminism’ and I think that a part of this is because as we grow older we sadly become more and more aware of the inequalities within our very own society. I think that now a lot of us are looking back on the language we used to use and cringing at how awfully sexist it was. But it wasn’t our fault, we had retrieved those words from the adult world and thrown them around without fully understanding the meaning behind it. Now we can see the meaning, and it is starting to repulse us.

Of course, there are still a few left in our year who are still refusing to accept feminism as a valid or necessary concept in our apparently perfect, middle class society. When I try to approach them in a different way and argue that if not for yourself then fight for the others, they still tend to resist. Fight for the women who are murdered in Honour Killings, for the girls who are not allowed to go to school, but, apparently, that’s different. This does not concern us according to them, and it is only barely worthy of feminism. But don’t worry …. I am working on this.

I think that overall being a young feminist is a positive, exciting thing for me now. I certainly feel deeply entrenched within a worthy cause I won’t ever want to stop fighting for, and what encourages me is that more and more of my peers are beginning to understand and feel that. We are young and passionate, and so I think by nature it’s a pretty powerful thing for us to work towards a freer, more equal world.

Mollie’s bio:

Mollie is a 17 year old student in the midst of her A Levels. She’s a passionate blogger at The Fully Intended, and all she really wants to do in life is write. She has been raised by her parents to want nothing more for the world than equality, and so intends to spend a lot of her time making sure her generation gets a little bit closer to just that.