Saturday, November 24, 2012

Hush, Hush,

I thought I heard you call me a name ...

This post has been brought about from a mixture of real life and online events. It's about the need for groups on Facebook to be 'secret'.

I belong to one of these top secret groups. Not because I have anything to be ashamed of, but because I am concerned about the reaction of some of my Facebook Friends if they read my comments on there.

The group is about feminism. I haven't belonged for long, but it is for women who want to talk about feminist issues, and get involved in some action. 

Everybody knows that Facebook doesn't necessarily mean that your closest friends and family are even aware of your comments on there; but for me, and many of the women in that group, it is the case. Yet we feel the need to hide our group from these people.


I'm not ashamed at all about my beliefs in equality, I'm rather proud of them, actually. So why do I feel the need to hide this part of my life from people around me?

Many of them will identify with believing that women can and should be equal. In fact, many of them believe that women are equal. And therein lies the rub of it.

I live an incredibly privileged life. I have a good job, house, car, family, finances, friends etc etc. I'm by no means Donald Trump, but I am a million miles away from being a 'dollar a day' employee, just hoping to make it through the next 24 hours. I am immensely grateful for that. I also know that I live in a time and place where I am able to vote, work, drive, speak in public etc. all of these things add up to a pretty high rate of privilege. So why am I still moaning?

Because, a significant number of people I know would tell me that I'm being over sensitive if I mention how the ending of Skyfall is a pile of pants. Because, my career is a typically female one and gets paid less than typically male ones. Because, when I take my daughter shopping we have to go to the boys section of a store to find the things she's interested in. Because so few women are the CEOs, politicians, decision makers of our society. Because I am fed up of people assuming that I will cook dinner. Because I still see injustice around me at every turn. So, yes, I will stomp my feet and shout "IT'S NOT FAIR".

I may sound like a toddler tantruming because their sibling got a slightly larger slice of the cookie, but it's still true - the balance between male and female lives is not fair. We're not just talking about cookies here, we're talking about power and freedom and the ability for us to flourish, to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. Just because most of life isn't fair does not mean we should shut up about it. Because it is doesn't mean it should be.

I have no idea about how to right all the wrongs of the world, I can only fight the battles that I see in front of me, and I won't quietly shut up just to make other people feel comfortable. In real life, I will have conversations to challenge and change the disparity around me.

But online? I find far too many people willing to bring harsh judgement, cruel words and mocking comments. I find that my opinions get twisted and distorted to make me look just like that toddler. I find that it's a safe haven for people who wouldn't dare to voice their misogynist opinions out loud, not in real life. And I find that it's just too wearisome to keep rebutting the same arguments over and over again, to people who clearly don't want to hear.

So, online, I hide in my secret group, relieved that there is a safe haven where I can be myself. It's almost as if we live in a patriarchal society, where women are too intimidated to speak out their beliefs. Oh, wait ...

Time for me to hush up now.

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