Mims' Musings

Saving Women while Sipping Tea

Posted on: 13/03/2011

Today I celebrated International Women’s Day, as organised by one of my good friends who I can remember meeting on our induction day way back in 1999!

We met for coffee (or tea) with 6 other girls who I was at secondary school with. Some of whom I hadn’t seen for 5 years. We talked about all kinds of women’s issues and had some really interesting conversations (as well as a good deal of catching up).

As we’d all spent 7 years at the same all girls school, it was really refreshing to see what paths our lives were heading down, 5 years after leaving, and to hear how similar some of our viewpoints and experiences are.

We were all quite distressed by how low the percentage of convictions for rape are. Nearly all of us knew of someone, or had heard of cases where time and time again rapists are ‘let off’ from rape. There are too many stories of judge’s blaming women for their own rape, too many ridiculous excuses used, and too few serious punishments. How is it fair that in return for raping someone you can be sentenced to just 6 years of jail, or even worse, community service and a fine?

Leading on from this we talked about how girls are brought up in a culture of fear. We unanimously said that we don’t feel safe walking alone at night (in this country at least), but the fear is never of being mugged but attacked. Surely statistically we’re no more likely to be attacked than men are, so why are we always told to fear it? Then again perhaps we’re just more cautious and aware of our safety?

Then again even in places where we should feel safe physically, like work or uni, sexism rears its ugly head. The problem is that we’ve learned to dismiss sexist comments as ‘just a joke’ or feel guilty for being offended, when really we shouldn’t have to put up with it.

We also talked about how much in-fighting there is in the ‘sisterhood’. Girls are constantly in competition with eachother, bitching about eachother and excluding eachother. Going to an all girls school for 7 years we certainly had plenty of experience in this area and seeing the side effects. Too many girls threw themselves at the first guy that came along as some sort of attempt to cancel out their low self esteem. In a world where patriachy is against you, girls should stick together, not make it worse for eachother.

Now that it’s 2012 you’d think that feminism would have become acceptable. Instead the media is now trying to claim that feminism has ‘gone too far’, when it clearly hasn’t gone far enough. Somehow feminism has become synonymous with the word ‘lesbian’, a ‘dirty’ word that people are ashamed to admit to being. When really it just means that you think the world needs to become a fairer place, for men and women.

The assumption that feminists hate men is just wrong. In fact all the issues I’ve written about here are just as relevant for men, and it’s just as interesting as to why domestic violence, rape and sexism are always associated with women, and if men identify themselves as victims they’re seen as ‘weak’.

These are just some of the things we talked about. Not even going into the problems that women around the world face. After a few tables full of coffee and tea cups, we all donated what money we could to Oxfam, who are currently sending all donations to women’s organisations around the world. I urge you strongly to do the same!



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