If you have been reading this blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I am a lover of feminism and fashion. It didn’t occur to me that I can’t be a feminist interested in fashion until I started paying actual attention to the media (this happened surprisingly late in life). There is a discontent between the two, as if women can’t be – and aren’t allowed to be – interested in both. I remember reading and reviewing Sali Hughes’ incredible book Pretty Honest where she talks about the same thing but with feminism and beauty. Why is it that if anyone does anything to look good (and I mean anything) they can’t be a feminist? Polly Vernon’s Hot Feminist address this point and argues (correctly without a shadow of a doubt) that being interested in the clothes you wear or the way you do your hair does not force you to give up your feminist card.
Speaking with columnist and author Byrony Gordon (her The Wrong Knickers is all kinds of brilliant) Polly so argued that the smaller things – the wolf whistling, being called chick or babe – need to be let go because they aren’t as important as the bigger stuff:
- The gender pay gap. As Polly said this is so shocking because the statistics are all there and still nothing as being done. Hilariously Polly said it’s because men need the extra money to pay for the upkeep of their penis – they aren’t actually better at their job than women
- The right for a woman to have an abortion. Currently in our Conservative government there are people in power who want to take this away. Women in Ireland don’t actually have this right and it was only when Polly mentioned the Easy Jet abortion shuttle bus that I actually realised that people come to the UK to have an abortion. Because this is a right that all women should be entitled to and it’s under threat.
- The statistics surrounding rape, the number of reported cases, the number of convictions from these cases is heart breaking. The default is always victim blaming and this is disgusting.
Polly then also added two more points, points which she wants to do more research on: FGM (female genital mutilation) and domestic violence. Feminists need to fight for these five points, everything else is not important.
I have actually been speaking to Polly on twitter about this. Last Saturday The Times ran an exclusive extract from Hot Feminist and I didn’t agree with everything Polly said and I mentioned this to Polly. But what I will never disagree with is Polly’s right to be respected for her opinions, just as I have the right to be respected for mine. We are both feminists and we both have chosen which battles to fight, this doesn’t mean one of us is more right than the other.
And that the lovely aspect about the whole evening – there wasn’t an element of right or wrong at all. Instead it was ‘this is what I think and you are more than welcome to agree with me and just as welcome to disagree with me’ (though as Polly joked it would be amazing if everyone agreed with her). She also addressed the privilege she has as a white feminist and this was incredibly refreshing to hear. I am not white and there really isn’t a place for ethnic feminism – it’s not often this is acknowledged.
The whole event was brilliant, all the more so because Blow Ltd were there to do our hair, there were goody bags on the seats, and drinks on offer. It was a wonderful evening and the second amazing event I went to this week with incredible, witty woman. Long may this continue.