In case you didn’t realise, tomorrow marks the 100th anniversary of women (only those over 30 mind!) being given the right to vote in England.
There are many events running across the country to commemorate this, including a special exhibition at the Pankhurst Centre in Manchester, and the Museum of London.
But with a hundred years passed since this first milestone law, how is feminism fairing in modern society?
It is a question which has dogged me for a while – a staunch feminist as a teenager, I never wore make up and insisted on studying physics at university, in retrospect mainly to prove that I could do so. It used to annoy me when I heard other people, both men and women, referring to modern-day feminists as “greedy”, “lesbians”, “bra burning” “man hating” etc. etc. It can all be very negative.
Yes, it is true that nowadays women in the western world endure many privileges also granted to men. And it is true that historical sexism could be regarded as not as abhorrent as racism and other forms of discrimination. But the fundamental idea of the feminist movement is one that resonates throughout the entire human race – a necessity for people to be treated as the individual and unique person they are, rather than with regards to their heritage, gender or any other difference.
So why should feminists be viewed in such a negative light, even by other women? It is distracting people from a problem that still resonates in society, even over a hundred years since the suffrage movement. Women are still not equally regarded in society as men, though it has improved far more. But branding people fighting for their cause in their own chosen manner does not help anything.
Not a teenager, wearing make up and having thoroughly turned my back on my physics career, I still regard myself as a feminist. It is something I am proud to be, and something that all men and women should be proud to be, void of any negative connotations. It is necessary for the tarnished feminist image to be revitalised to continue its forces towards equality, not just for men and women, but for all people.