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Feminism in Britain

As International Women’s Day was on 8th March, it seemed topical to look at feminism’s political significance in contemporary Britain.

More recently in the feminist sphere there has been talk of ‘fourth-wave’ feminism. In some ways this has proved to be the re-branding feminism, desperately needed in order to distance itself from the image that feminism precludes men and a feminism that was strongly associated with ‘man-hating’. The deputy editor of the New Statesman, Helen Lewis, has praised this new movement in feminist campaigning: “It feels as though there’s a greater energy to the feminist movement now than I’ve experienced before in my adult life”.

The Everyday Sexism campaign has been an important force in contributing to this new “energy”. The twitter account, @Everyday Sexism, run by Laura Bates, documents the daily harassments to which women are subjected. The account has in excess of one hundred thousand followers.  The No More Page Three campaign, which is hoping to persuade the Sun newspaper’s Editor to no longer run pictures of naked women as a feature, has also gained considerable momentum with the use of social media sites. In fact, UoN SU has only this week banned the selling of The Sun and Daily Star in support of this campaign.

The writer and feminist Caitlin Moran argues there needs to be a “re-claiming” of the word “feminism”, because so many women don’t classify themselves as feminists. Apparently, only forty two per cent of British women would describe themselves as feminists.

Feminism has whole heartedly embraced a politics centred on the use of social networking sites. More than ever women recognise their right to equality, even if they don’t recognise themselves as feminists. Feminism’s greatest battle is readdressing the cultural imbalances that persist in Britain’s society; and until they are addressed and remedied, women are unlikely to become proportionately represented in Parliament in the coming years.

In a new campaign the term ‘bossy’ is called into question – Ban Bossy campaigners have highlighted that whilst men are described as “ambitious” women are often termed “bossy”.

“Girls are less interested in leadership than boys,” Beyoncé says, and that’s because they worry about being called “bossy” while little boys who step up are called “leaders.”

But Beyoncé’s not the only one speaking up: Diane Von Furstenburg, Jennifer Garner, Jane Lynch, Arne Duncan, U.S Secretary of Education, and Anna Maria Chavez CEO of the Girls Scouts of the USA all have joined the campaign.

“We need to recognize the many ways we systematically discourage leadership in girls from an early age – and instead, we need to encourage them,” says Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who founded LeanIn.org. “So the next time you have the urge to call your little girl bossy? Take a deep breath and praise her leadership skills instead.”

 

Edited by Harriet Dunlea

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Polly Renouf

Nottingham

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