Even in a culturally enlightened western world, we seem unable, as a collective society, to articulate well balanced debates without some uneducated buffoon claiming “All Feminists are Dykes” or a radical feminist cropping up and pushing arguments forward for ‘female superiority’. These are hyperbolic examples granted but for argument’s sake, forgive me.
Let us start with sexism which is a point of contention sadly even in today’s climate. Just what is sexism now? Is it so clearly defined? Can it be seen explicitly in everyday society or does one have to search virulently for it? Whether you believe that feminism and the reduction of sexism should be an inherently instilled concept within the public, or you think it just clearly isn’t worth it, (equality has happened, right?), one is still left with awkward truth that the whole movement is encapsulated within a very intimate sphere. It is important to consider that perhaps, just perhaps, someone doesn’t think the same way as you.
Often, something deemed sexist by a degree level literature student studying feminisms would be construed as run of the mill behaviour by the average Joe on the street. Consider, if you will, the gendering of kinder eggs. Fine right? Well, it depends. One may see it as a simple marketing ploy that might actually allow a parent to pick up that Kinder Egg containing a car that little Jimmy has wanted for so long. However, one may see it as a new step in the generation old attempt to socially condition gender roles through the assignment of particular pursuits to each respectively, thus: boys like blue, boys like cars; girls like pink, girls like princesses and jewellery.
Now what about the derogatory word “slut”? To me it is both a phonetically repulsive word and is often used with double standards. If a man sees a woman he deems good looking dressed ‘provocatively’, the reaction will often be one of endearment; of congratulation and admiration. Slut will not be found amongst the catcalls of ‘stunner’, ‘gorgeous’ etcetera. Yet, if masculine society deems a woman below their unrealistically high modern standards, often forced upon them by a perpetually sexist media, one can be sure that the insult slut will slip from one bonehead’s mouth. Exasperating. And if a man sleeps with many women, #LADpoints are due, yet a girl is vilified for simply exploring the very simple biological desire to mate and explore sexuality.
Sex isn’t something that should be used as a tool against a woman; it should be an implement of liberation and freedom. This is one thing I do have a very conscious view on and do wish to impart my opinion upon you, the reader. Though, how does one react to the idea of things, such as slut walks; where women walk around rebelliously in opposition to word being used and the attitudes that surround it. Is it simply a process of linguistic reclamation intended to place the insult in the hands of the oppressed? Or does it, on some level, justify the use of the term for people who wish use it and perpetuate its existence? This can be problematic.
I’m rather proud of our University’s behaviour in the recent epidemic of sexism sweeping British H.E institutes. I’ve never heard Blurred Lines by Robin Thicke. Our club nights aren’t branded with hideous titles like ‘Sluts and Pimps’, ‘CEOs and Corporate Hoes’; nightmares from a series of offensive nights at a university in 2012. It is interesting, however, to see the reaction of Warwick students to the nature of one of our more popular nights ‘Skool Dayz’.
On the face of it, no explicit requirements are made for ‘Skool Dayz’; school dress is suggested and the music is cheesy 90s/00s based. But more often than not; girls decide to go in skirts shorter than short, shirts open, in a rather unabashed presentation of flesh and sexualised feeling.
Now, this is fine; people can wear what they want and it isn’t up to anyone to judge. It’s just interesting to think whether this is a product of continuous social and gender conditioning or just a genuine desire to enjoy oneself and feel happy in one’s body. Is it to look good to the opposite sex or just to look good within oneself? I’m not sure but I’m intrigued to find out. I’m also intrigued to find out how the scene would change if attire between the genders were swapped and we could all experience cross dressed men and suited and booted women. Just a bit of fun, you know; after all, we can’t always take ourselves too seriously…